When I first heard that Jon Gruden was suing the NFL and Roger Goodell because, Gruden believes, they forced him out of his job as the Las Vegas Raiders’ coach, I thought of Mike Tyson.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth,” Tyson once said.
When Gruden’s emails leaked during an investigation into the craziness inside the Washington Football Team, it revealed that the coach, who had enjoyed a cushy 15-year career with the league, freely opined his sexist, racist and homophobic perspectives in professional communications with colleagues.
Because this was found to occur in more than one email, it only underscores that Gruden felt comfortable in expressing himself this way (in writing, no less) because there had been no consequence for having done so previously.
Gruden apologized in a short statement, saying he “never meant to hurt anyone,” which read to me like a request for clemency from the football fanbase instead of a note of atonement.
Gruden’s plan, it seemed, was to continue in his unabashed bigotry. That is, until a quick blow came in the form of The Wall Street Journal’s reporting about his 2011 emails about NFLPA's DeMaurice Smith.
Having resigned in disgrace, Gruden seems angry that he’s the only one who’s taken a hit — a signal that perhaps he knows as I suspect that the NFL is rife with unspoken Old Boys’ Club rules that privilege white men above all other others (as long as no one proves themselves to be a financial liability. Ignorance, while permitted, isn’t always profitable.)
Is Gruden mad that Roger Goodell wants to practice “equality” in the league as of late? Because let’s be honest- it appears that Gruden was allowed to exercise his racist thoughts out loud and in peace for a long time.
And without warning that privilege and protection was removed.
“There is no explanation or justification for why Gruden’s emails were the only ones made public out of the 650,000 emails collected in the NFL’s investigation of the Washington Football Team or for why the emails were held for months before being released in the middle of the Raiders’ season,” said the lawyer’s statement.
I’m not saying Goodell is acting in virtue here—Lord knows that the NFL doesn’t do anything by accident and never hesitates to exploit a controversy for its own profit. But Gruden’s response is telling. It underscores his own lack of remorse and shows he sees personal accountability as the true offense.