Lee Heidhues 10.12.2021
Back in Jon Gruden’s halycon days as Oakland Raiders coach he was affectionately known as “Chucky” and billboards with his smiling face graced billboards on Bay Area freeways.
Times have changed.
Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s sudden resignation in the face of a political and media firestorm when his 10 year old incendiary emails found their way into the news cycle has become a major political story. What is more disturbing is the fact that people inside the NFL and the media have known about Gruden’s comments for years.
The question becomes, “Why did it take 10 years for this story to become public knowledge?” The reason may be that Gruden has been a money machine for the networks in his role as a coach and a commentator on ESPN.
Money can make a lot of uncomfortable problems go away. But not forever.
Excerpted from Vanity Fair 10.12.2021
Newsmax host Greg Kelly chalked up Jon Gruden’s resignation to “CANCEL CULTURE BULLSHIT,” while right-wing talk radio host Jesse Kelly said that if Gruden had “mocked straight people, insulted the looks of a white man, and said Christians are stupid, he’d still be employed today.”
This past June, the National Football league launched a new promo video that proclaimed, “Football is gay,” as well as “lesbian,” “beautiful,” “strong,” “queer,” and “transgender.” The video reportedly drew plenty of hateful comments, and this week, a new scandal has shed light on the recalcitrant culture of homophobia and racism that still exists in the NFL.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden made a series of racist, homophobic, and sexist comments in emails several years ago.
Gruden attempted to sweep aside the incident when confronted with the first seemingly racist remark he made in 2011, when he said that NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who is Black, has “lips the size of [Michelin] tires.”
Gruden ultimately resigned in the face of the Times story, which suggested the comment was not an isolated incident. “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction,” Gruden said in a statement. “I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
In perhaps a predictable turn of events, Gruden’s resignation has granted him instant martyr status in the right-wing media’s “cancel culture” wars.
Blogger and podcast host Matt Walsh said as much in a tweet stating that “Nobody was a victim of Gruden’s vulgar comments,” ergo he should face no consequences. “Nobody was hurt or even offended. Call it what it is: Gruden is getting canceled for thought crimes,” Walsh wrote, adding that Gruden lost his job “because he’s a white guy who used insensitive language.” Gruden’s use of anti-gay slurs is of particular note given that––up until Monday night––he coached Carl Nassib, the first active NFL player to come out publicly. Still, Walsh wrote, there is “no indication or even claim that [Gruden] has acted inappropriately in his job as a coach.
Naturally, the controversy made its way onto the former president’s favorite TV network. During his Fox Business show on Monday, host Charles Payne argued that Gruden was a victim of selective punishment and that he “should [not] have lost his job over this,” while his guest asserted that proponents of “cancel culture” have “won another battle.”
Jason Whitlock, a former Fox Sports personality who now hosts a show on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze network, responded to the controversy by suggesting that this season’s Super Bowl Halftime Show’s performers—rappers Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem—are all more cancel-worthy than Gruden.
Top photo -NFLPA Director DeMaurice Smith