Years ago, on his weekly radio show, Jim Rome would begin his Mondays wondering whether he would get through the week without talking about someone in sports doing something asinine. This would range from the inane to the profane, from the regal to the illegal. Needless to say, Rome would go weeks, if not months, if not longer waiting for an uneventful week.
This Monday, Jon Gruden gave Rome and the rest of us plenty to talk about.
The latest news to come out of Raider camp alleges that, in an e-mail dated ten years ago, the once deemed affable, head football coach used what ESPN called a “racial trope” when referring to the African-American head of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith. What a difference an e-mail makes.
In said e-mail, which was uncovered a decade after the fact thanks to an NFL misconduct investigation, Gruden wrote Smith had “lips the size of michellin tires.”
In a feeble attempt to put out the fire, Gruden explained that he has used the expression “rubber lips” in the past upon catching someone in a lie. I don’t know what’s more offensive, Gruden’s idiocy or the fact that he expects us to believe that line of bullshit.
Regardless of how Gruden wants to spin this, he has been and will continue to be rightfully thrashed by the league and the media. He will likely face disciplinary action from the Raiders, the league, or both.
I’ve always wanted to have a series of posts on this site called “Ranking the Racists” where I rank people of note for their ignorance. Previous participants would have included Colin Cowherd, Paula Deen, Karl Malone, Chris Broussard, Donald Sterling, Don Imus, Tim Hardaway, Dogg the Bounty Hunter, Hulk Hogan, Mel Gibson, Michael Richards, Jimmy the Greek and of course, the king of all racists, Al Campanis, who deserves his own wing in the Racist Hall of Fame.
Coach Gruden, congratulations, you hit the top of the charts with a bullet. In a league that does its best to improve race relations yet often falls short, you have singlehandedly set us back forty years or more. This wasn’t even creative racism. This was a joke that was left on the cutting room floor of All in the Family tapings.
Prior to this latest debacle, I’d never been much of a fan of Gruden’s. Sure, he was head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when they won their first Super Bowl but the men who built that team, from Sam Wyche to Tony Dungy to Monte Kiffin deserve most of the credit. If you take away the 12-4 record from his first year in Tampa, Gruden actually had a losing record (45-51) as head coach. He was fired by the Bucs in 2008.
Gruden’s name is included in Tampa Bay’s Ring of Honor along with Mike Alstott, Lee Roy Selmon, Jimmie Giles, John McKay, Doug Williams, Malcom Glazer, Paul Gruber, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Warren Sapp, Ronde Barber and Tony Dungy. Monte Kiffin’s will be the next name added. One could easily make the argument that Gruden’s is the least deserving name of the bunch. Not only does he currently coach for another team (at least for now) but these latest e-mails at a minimum warrant discussion of his name’s removal from that wall. Stranger (and more deserving) things have happened.
Gruden claims to be “transparent” with his players but moving forward, how do you confront your locker room, your coaching staff, basically anyone within the Raiders organization with any shred of decency knowing you’ve been exposed as an asshat?
Not only is Gruden despicable but he’s also full of shit. You can’t convince me that this one regrettable e-mail is the only time he’s ever said anything racially derogatory. I’m half-waiting for him to come up with the “How can I be racist when the Michelin man is white” defense.
Gruden’s camp has to be waiting nervously for the other shoe to drop as there’s no way he’s going to be able to talk his way out of this one. He probably also inadvertently sunk Frank Caliendo’s career as well.
News of Gruden’s razor-sharp wit came literally one week after Urban Meyer was caught rubbing his sixty-year-old pecker up against a total stranger. Meyer secretly has to be thanking Gruden for stealing away the attention. Are there two guys in America you’d least like to have dinner with these days than Gruden and Meyer? As you sit there peacefully trying to eat your meal, Meyer would be scoping out the bar for chicks while Gruden spoke ill under his breath about the colored busboy.
Perhaps we hold these guys in too high a regard. Perhaps we’re kidding ourselves to think these kinds of conversations don’t exist among people of power. White liberal America, present company included, is all in an uproar about Gruden’s secret e-mails but you know who’s not surprised? Black America. Trust me. They’ve heard worse. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the Raiders players staged a sit-in this weekend. It also wouldn’t surprise me if this entire thing was swept under the rug.
The NFL can ill afford to take this lightly. It already mishandled the Colin Kaepernick situation from which it only recently emerged. The league cannot sit idly by and pretend that one of its most recognizable head coaches didn’t commit the cardinal sin of alienating the league’s players and its fan base. The Raiders just signed this guy to a ten-year, $100 million dollar contract. Talk about buyer’s remorse. I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if the team, or the league, makes him forfeit some of that money and engage in some serious community service.
The Raiders have to be at least contemplating whether or not to void his contract. Only now, in his fourth year back with the Raiders franchise, has his team showed any sort of long-term promise but they’re still under .500 since his arrival.
Perhaps it’s naïve of me to still think this kind of shit doesn’t happen. It’s also naïve of me to think this too won’t pass. Hulk Hogan and Jon Gruden are Tampa natives and both revered locally. Did we forget about that recorded phone call where Hogan lashed out about his daughter dating black guys? I didn’t.
Seriously. What the fuck is wrong with people? Just when we think we’ve turned a corner, idiots like Gruden remind us we’re back to square one in America, where we still refuse to respect people that don’t have the same bowl cut as us.
To add to the intrigue, Gruden wasn’t even employed by the NFL at the time he sent this e-mail. He was employed as a Monday Night Football commentator by none other than king of all liberal media ABC/ESPN. One would think the four-letter would be smart enough to hire this guy a proof-reader whose sole purpose would be to suggest there are some things he should not say and to tell him he spelled Michelin wrong.
For the record, DeMaurice Smith has a law degree from the University of Virginia, Gruden has a bachelors in communications (or lack thereof) from Dayton. Upon hearing these comments, Smith, of course, took the high road.
“This is not the first racist comment that I’ve heard and it probably will not be the last. This is a thick-skin job for someone with dark skin, just like it always has been for many people who look like me and work in corporate America. Racism like this comes from the fact that I’m at the same table as they are and they don’t think someone who looks like me belongs.”
Oh, Jon Gruden. You are an uneducated tool of the highest order.
I have a suggestion. Forget all the fines, suspensions and potential firings. I have the ultimate punishment for the now-grimacing-for-a-reason head coach. At the next Las Vegas Raiders home game, right before they play the national anthem, Gruden alone should kneel before the crowd, protesting his own ignorance, so that everyone can point at him and ask why, so that the once most coveted football coach in America can finally understand why athletes took a stand in the first place.