Ok, so full disclosure off the top, I started writing this in the midst of sleep deprivation. I apologize in advance for all of the thoughts that might not come out fully formed.
So unless you were living in the actual black hole that has taken shape in the form of the new Raiders stadium in Vegas, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of people are mad at the now-former coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, AKA Jon Gruden.
So why are we so mad at Jon Gruden?
Could it be the racist comments? Could it be the misogyny? or perhaps it could be the homophobic comments he made? Not just at players in the league but also the commissioner? Maybe it’s the comments surrounding a stance/protest that has nothing to do with disrespecting our troops and our flag but highlighting an otherwise targeted and marginalized group of people on who many of this country’s “principles” and “beliefs” have been exploited upon? Could it be the comments he made that proved that he so clearly didn’t have regard for the players’ health and safety? The same bodies referenced in the previous sentence and whose health and safety have been put at risk to make Jon Gruden millions of dollars in the NFL?
Or Could It Be (GASP)… ALL OF THE ABOVE?
Yes, I know we’re all clutching our pearls right now. This couldn’t be the same league that criminalizes the use of CBD and recreational marijuana use while doing nothing about punishing the domestic and sexual abusers that run rampant throughout the league, could it? Oh, but it is.
Let’s be honest, Jon Gruden is no anomaly in this league, or in our country for that matter. He represents so many ideals and thoughts that many people have from East Coast to West Coast. We’ve seen these viewpoints come crawling out of the woodwork these last four years, if not many before. He is the walking talking personification of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The kind of guy who says all of the right things in front of everyone and then walks behind closed doors and says things that completely portray the opposite of what he just said to our faces.
Cancel Culture Strikes Again?
“All of my football coaches used to call us gay or call us f******”, or “I’ve been called a pussy so many times growing up”, or “I hate cancel culture”. These are probably many arguments or statements you’ve seen online or in your group chats regarding his comments. Well just because they happened or were said doesn’t make them right. Also, being called a pussy should honestly be regarded as quite a compliment. As a woman that is writing this I can wholeheartedly attest to the beatings that they take. On a regular basis. But I digress……
It’s not cancel culture to hold someone accountable for the mistakes they’ve made in their past. But there are consequences. As many have noted over the last few days, had Gruden made light of even just one of these groups, the Raiders may have been able to PR and damage control their way out of this situation. But that wasn’t the case.
To quote Adam Schefter, he made a “clean sweep” of offenses. It also wasn’t the case that he wrote a few emails over a decade ago and that was the end of it. Instead, he held on to this rhetoric in many of his correspondences over the course of seven years. When put in the context of “2020 feeling like it was 5 years long”, these emails were dated as recently as 2018. And even when these emails started in 2011, Gruden was just a young buck, just 48 years old, that couldn’t possibly have known better than TO PUT THESE FEELINGS IN WRITING!
Sorry Jon, but you can’t blame this one on the innocence of youth.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Gruden’s resignation comes as a result of an investigation that initially had nothing to do with him. Instead, it started as a probe into the front office of the Washington Football Team and the allegations of sexual harassment and assault. That’s a whole other can of worms that I’m not even prepared to tackle in my current lack of sleep. The NFL’s handling of assault is an in depth discussion for another day. What might be even be considered most frustrating is that we will have to wait and see if anything actually comes of the initial investigation and any of the mishandling of situations by Dan Snyder and Co.
Jon Gruden just happened to be the guppy on the end of the fishing line that will hopefully hook some bigger fish that can be fried in the NFL.
So, while we’re mad at Jon Gruden for all of the various individual comments he’s made both on the record and off, which are many and of varying contexts, I think what we might be more upset with is the overall culture of accountability in the NFL and the pretense of being someone you actually aren’t.
We knew this was what hiding behind the mask all along. Not just with Gruden but with others. We’re not surprised, just disappointed. Which if you are Black, a woman, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or simply any marginalized population, or were raised in the midwest and/or with some form of religious guilt is not a new feeling. But until recently it wasn’t one that Jon Gruden or many white males with power had experienced much. Now if we can only get the NFL to hold their domestic and sexual abusers to the same standard.
Footnote: Urban Meyer must be relieved to have the focus on someone else this week. Yeesh.
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Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes It’s important to not lean too hard on hindsight...