John Gruden was, until yesterday, the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Gruden had been in the NFL, left to ESPN, then returned to coach the Raiders.
The emails that led to Gruden resigning yesterday were uncovered during a review of workplace misconduct at the Washington Redskins. Those emails, some of which were very blunt, profane, and filled with slurs, had been sent mostly, but not entirely, when he was an ESPN commentator to friends of his within the NFL. Some of them were sent while he was within the NFL.
It is 2021. The email the New York Times fixated on to lead to Gruden’s departure was from 2011, in which Gruden referred to DeMaurice Smith, the Executive Director of the NFL Players Association, writing, “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.”
The last email the New York Times found that was problematic came in early 2018, in which Gruden complained about Roger Goodell, who Gruden frequently called gay or used the f-word in reference to Goodell.
Gruden signed on to return to the NFL in 2018.
Regardless of what Gruden said, they were in private emails to friends. They were uncovered because they went not to personal email accounts, but to corporate accounts or personal accounts subject to search.
Gruden said in private what other people might say, including referring to Joe Biden in 2012 as a “nervous clueless pussy.” Whether you like it or not, these conversations happen among friends who sometimes use coarse language.
This was clearly an orchestrated effort to punish Gruden for past comments and drive him out of the NFL. We can speculate on who did it. But we should really focus on the problem here that keeps happening.
Gruden’s comments came in a series of emails from 2011 to 2018. It is 2021. In a legal setting, a statute of limitations would have expired. But the elites will fire Gruden for inappropriate comments made a decade ago in an email he presumed was private. In fact, it must be noted, the email that built the pressure to oust Gruden was the 2011 email about DeMaurice Smith.
There’s no reason to justify Gruden’s comments, but they are the sorts of things some people will say in private. They have not affected his ability to coach a team. They just made people mad — but made people mad who seventy-two hours ago were perfectly fine without knowledge of the old emails.
Obviously, there’s a lesson that one must not put in emails even to friends their candid thoughts if said thoughts might be deemed offensive or use vulgar language and slurs. Another lesson that we need to learn and will not learn is that firing someone because of decade old remarks or even four year old remarks is a way to engender hard feelings, backlash, and a growing undercurrent of silent activists willing to later seek their revenge.
Cancel culture will draw a backlash. Gruden’s work product speaks for itself. He has done a tremendous job with the Raiders. He should apologize for his remarks. He should still have his job.