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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Jon Gruden’s burn book

Oakland+Raiders+head+coach+Jon+Gruden+observes+players+during+practice+at+their+training+facility+in+Napa+Valley%2C+Calif.%2C+August+7%2C+2018.+The+Raiders+invited+Travis+Air+Force+Base+Airmen+to+attend+camp+and+were+treated+to+a+scrimmage+between+the+Raiders+and+Detroit+Lions+and+a+meet+and+greet+autograph+session+with+players+and+coaches+from+both+teams.+%28U.S.+Air+Force+photo+by+Louis+Briscese%29
Photo by U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese

Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden observes players during practice at their training facility in Napa Valley, Calif., August 7, 2018. The Raiders invited Travis Air Force Base Airmen to attend camp and were treated to a scrimmage between the Raiders and Detroit Lions and a meet and greet autograph session with players and coaches from both teams. (U.S. Air Force photo by Louis Briscese)

If not for the Washington Football Team’s workplace misconduct case, 650,000 emails aren’t pulled. Without those emails, Jon Gruden’s comments about the lips — yes, the lips — of the current Black president of the NFL Players Association, Demaurice Smith, aren’t backdoor shuffled to both the media and to the Las Vegas Raiders organization. Without that shuffling, Gruden’s other incriminating statements — about minority groups, NFL commissioner Roger Goddell and others — probably aren’t plastered on the front page of The New York Times. Without that news coverage, Gruden is still tending to his duties as a head coach. And in light of the unrelenting coverage of Gruden’s words and analysis of his hasty departure in the days following, Carl Nassib, the NFL’s first openly gay player and current member of the Raiders, doesn’t have to request a personal day

I hate to be that girl, but Gruden, former Monday Night Football analyst, championship-winning head coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and closeted bigot, was outed last week, and several things about this situation feel icky. 

The presented information begs the question of who wanted Gruden to perish. Identifying the culprit is a tall order seeing as his emails affronted women, both the LGBTQIA+ and Black communities along with his boss’s boss’s boss, the current NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell. In other words, he’s created a long list of enemies in the football world alone.

Misogynistic and bigoted rhetoric aside for a moment — I hope I don’t get my feminist and Black cards revoked for this — how would you feel if the personal thoughts you sent to a good friend made headlines? You too might make enemies, or at the very least produce a number of irate text messages from friends or family. I know I would. 

So unless there are other fact-based accounts pinning Gruden to heinous rhetoric in conversation or overt instances of discriminatory behavior. His claim that he “didn’t mean to hurt anyone” may not actually be the excrement it smells like. 

Be advised: I do not feel bad for Gruden. We’re dealing in the realm of a multibillion dollar industry run by powerful, heterosexual, white men whose pink, stickered burn book looks like hundreds of thousands of emails containing information that the NFL has decided to withhold for reasons unknown. (I have my theories, but here we are). I do, however, sympathize with Carl Nassib, who wasn’t implicated in these emails, but will scour his memory of instances where he could have known, where he could have seen Gruden reveal his true sentiments. I sympathize with the players who several days ago realized they were the alibi for white men who make racist comments about Black people but bring up their association with men of color as a means to justify their hate speech. I feel for those players, because it is no secret that there are more Gruden’s lurking in the bowels of the most powerful caucuses of professional sports, on coaching staffs and by their sides in the locker room. I feel for the people that Gruden has silenced. 
If you believe that Gruden should be the coach of the Raiders or any other NFL team for that matter, yikes. Gruden may not have meant to hurt anyone, but he did, and betrayal of this capacity is an unforgivable offense. As an athlete, trust and mutual respect in the player-coach relationship is essential, and Gruden has obliterated this trust. The media informed the Las Vegas Raiders of Gruden’s true character, and professional football players don’t take too kindly to being stabbed in the back and outright disrespected by a friend.  Gruden may never work in the NFL again, but I assure you, he’ll be fine. 
Sidenote: I wonder if JG rode out of his last Raiders press conference on the Michelin tires he so generously promoted in his email. 

Jordan Nixon is a psychology senior and opinion writer for The Battalion
 

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