Jon Gruden is no longer the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. On the one hand, it is very surprising news; the legendary football franchise had offered a full $ 100 million guarantee over ten seasons, and Gruden’s fourth season got off to a promising start with three early victories, including against title contenders Baltimore Ravens. That was the stated goal after moving from Oakland to the sinful city: acting and, as former owner Al Davis always put it: “Just win, honey!” Winning at all costs, in football, a few mistakes off the field are often overlooked, as numerous scandals in recent years have shown.
In this case, it is not possible: Before he became Raiders coach in 2018, Gruden had sent several emails in which he had used racist, homophobic and misogynistic terms – over a period of seven years. He insulted Roger Goodell, head of the American Football League NFL, as a “fool” and “ignorant anti-football pussy”, he compared the African-American head of the players’ union, DeMaurice Smith, to an elephant and had a comment for its facial features, as simple and can be clearly identified as racist: “Dumboriss (sic!) Smith has lips the size of car tires.”
From 2010 onwards, he sent emails with such content to Bruce Allen, then president of the Washington Football Franchise, who at the time was criticized for their racist nickname (there is still nothing new since 2020 they are called the Washington Football Team). .. He complained about female referees and football players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police violence. He wrote that Goodell should not have asked St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher on signing “queers”. The Rams voted for the overtly gay Michael Sam at the Talent Fair in 2014.
“I’m resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” Gruden was quoted as saying by the club in a Twitter post: “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a nuisance. I’m sorry I never intended to to hurt someone. ” Raiders owner Mark Davis, son of “Just win” Al, has described emails as “disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for”; Smith said, “It’s always been like this for people like me: people talk behind your back or use coded messages for their racism.” The league and ESPN also distanced themselves from Gruden, who apparently anticipated his firing by resigning.
Gruden’s nickname is “Chucky”, after the horror movie character. He maintained the image
Gruden, 58, was an expert on the sports television station ESPN at the time and was famous and infamous for finding honest and above all clear words in his analyzes. Prior to that, he coached the Raiders (1998-2001), in January 2003 he won the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the youngest coach in NFL history (39 years) – against the Raiders. Because of his strawberry blonde hair and the often grim facial expression, he was nicknamed “Chucky” with reference to the horror movie doll of the same name; an image he certainly cultivated: an old-school guy who can do nothing with the supposed softness of the original American sport. There are not even so few Americans who think this attitude is great.
The first email was only discovered due to a study of the culture of the franchise in Washington. Goodell had commissioned investigators to investigate more than 650,000 hostile emails – one of which was the one that contained comments about Smith. Gruden apologized last week that he was frustrated by a possible player lockout and cancellation of the season: “I have gone too far, but I do not have a spark of racism in me.” He said he used rubber lips to describe liars: “I had no racist thoughts about it.”
This is the moment when the rug in American sports is often lifted to sweep something underneath. But more and more emails came out, especially between Gruden and Allen, whose father George was the NFL coach, and who employed Gruden’s brother Jay as a coach in Washington from 2014 to 2019. So these are two families with deep roots in football, Gruden’s father Jim was an assistant coach at the University of Notre Dame.
Gruden distributes to everyone: His fate was that he sent emails to NFL addresses
Sometimes only Gruden and Allen wrote, sometimes it was group emails to several recipients. Gruden, who used a private email account to send the messages to NFL addresses, was fatal – Allen was fired in 2019. That Wall Street Journal published this first email about Smith last Friday, the New York Times later the others.
For example, Gruden wrote to Allen to tell Buccaneers owner Bryan Glazer to blow him off. Allen’s response: “He will accept the offer”. He made fun of Olympic tithing champion Bruce Jenner’s gender reassignment surgery in Caitlyn, and he criticized a law designed to ban the Washington nickname that many Native Americans feel offended by. When someone posted a sexist meme about a female referee, Gruden wrote sarcastically about NFL boss Goodell: “Great job Roger.” And when it came to the league’s stance on protests against racism and police violence that Goodell would allow, Gruden wrote, “He has to hide in one of his concussion tents.”
There are so many racist, homophobic and misogynistic slanders that the world’s biggest blanket would not have been enough. A few hours later, Gruden was no longer the Raiders’ coach.