On Jon Gruden’s Resignation

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Salwa Usmani, Staff Writer

In the past 100 years, the United States has seemingly become a much more accepting and inclusive country. Nevertheless, racism, homophobia, and misogyny are still rampant in society, especially within sports franchises. On October 11, Las Vegas Raiders head coach, Jon Gruden, resigned following leaked emails spanning from 2010-2018, containing his misogynistic, racist, and homophobic remarks. Gruden’s opinions spread hateful messages to roughly 16 million people and such behavior is inexcusable. Though laws and regulations are in place to protect minority groups and women, they are insufficient to prevent the sharing of hateful opinions on a national platform.

Jon Gruden came under heavy scrutiny after The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal reported copies of emails he sent containing inappropriate racial remarks towards DeMaurice Smith, the NFL Players Association Executive Director. Days later, it was revealed in additional emails that Gruden made offensive remarks towards the drafting of a player in the LGBTQ+ community and misogynistic comments, such as sexually-motivated criticism towards female referees. “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of Michelin tires,” Gruden wrote about Smith in the email exchange. In an article by The New York Times, entitled, “Raiders Coach Made Racist Comment About NFL Players’ Union Chief’,” Smith responded by stating that his comments are “symptomatic of the challenges that Black Americans face.” Since the release of these emails, Smith and many other players have spoken out about Gruden’s homophobic and racist behavior exhibited on the field. For example, in response to the Los Angeles Rams offering a contract to Michael Sam, who is openly gay, Gruden, in an email, referred to NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, with a homophobic slur and stated that he should not have drafted “queers.”

Many questions have been raised concerning Jon Gruden’s resignation. Many in the NFL agree that there is and should be a separation of private and public communication. Those in positions of power or who draw attention from the public must be cautious of their actions, even in personal settings.

Though Gruden’s communications were private, his comments in the emails are atrocious. A league spokesman, Brian McCarthy, also mentioned the email that Gruden wrote about Smith being “appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values.” Regardless of circumstances, Gruden’s actions are unacceptable and he must take responsibility and consequences for his hateful behavior.

The NFL does not openly support any of the ideas reflected in the emails by Gruden. However, the NFL took no action to prevent it, let alone stop it. Former NFL player, Keyshawn Johnson, was coached by Gruden when drafted to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He spoke out on Jon Gruden’s behavior towards him and his team. “​​[NFL executive] Rich McKay left in the middle of the season to go take another job, with another team, because he didn’t want to be around [Gruden].” Johnson also mentions that “This dude is a fraud, y’all don’t seem to understand . . . he’s selling you on something, and you’re buying it.” For years, Gruden was allowed to remain the head coach of the Raiders, directly impacting the groups he attacked. His media spotlight exposes these hateful beliefs to millions of viewers across the nation, spreading hate through his position and ability in NFL. The NFL’s failure to take action is apparent in the lack of black head coaches, general managers, and teams. Gruden’s resignation is far from the solution to ending misogyny, homophobia, and racism in the league. For change to occur, the NFL needs to advocate and support such groups actively.