Resignation in the NFL: The mask has fallen from coach Gruden

Sa nickname came from a Hollywood horror film series a few years ago. The reason: The striking resemblance between his face and that of “Chucky”, a doll in which the spirit of a murderer lives on. It wasn’t a big secret why Jon Gruden’s players were reminded of this fictional character. The football coach ventured his anger on them often and in public, preferably from a short distance – face to face.

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What is hidden behind this mask, however, has only been known for a few days. The New York Times gradually revealed excerpts from e-mails that the 58-year-old coach of the Las Vegas Raiders had written in those years when he worked as an interim television commentator for the broadcaster ESPN. They resulted in the image of an aggressive, condescending guy who finds it easy to cover his fellow men with a kaleidoscope of stereotypes.

He described the African-American head of the players’ union, DeMaurice Smith, as a man “with lips the size of Michelin tires”. And the league’s executive director, Roger Goodell, as a “fagot” and “unsuspecting anti-football slacker” who puts pressure on coaches to sign homosexual players. He criticized the willingness of the National Football League NFL to use female referees and was indignant about the protests of black professionals against police brutality and about rule changes intended to minimize the health risks of the active players.

Misogynous working atmosphere

Gruden’s aggregated views can be found in a collection of over 600,000 emails collected by the National Football League as part of an internal study of the corporate culture of one of its franchises. This is the Washington Redskins, who dropped their team name last year and have been looking for an alternative ever since.

The league stepped in after a total of fifteen former Washington Post cheerleaders described a misogynous work environment with sexual coercion and verbal assault in July 2020. The club was fined $ 10 million by the NFL in July for this. The investigation report, however, remained under lock and key. It therefore took several months for the emails of the coach, who won the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003 at the age of 39, to be gradually revealed.

No other way out

Gruden apparently suspected during the weekend that he could sit out a storm of indignation: “I am ashamed that I insulted DeSmith,” he told his old employer ESPN about his comment on the unionist. But: “That had nothing to do with racist thoughts.”

When the broad spectrum of his animosity became known in the course of Monday, however, he saw no other way out than to resign from his job. He had started it – endowed with 100 million dollars over a period of ten years – in 2018: “I love the Raiders,” wrote Gruden in his statement. “I’m sorry. I had no intention of hurting anyone. ”In any case, the NFL condemned Gruden’s statements as“ appalling, horrific and completely contrary to one’s own values ​​”.

Inglorious departure from Jon Gruden.

Inglorious departure from Jon Gruden.

Image: AFP

Indeed, according to the New York Times in its report on Gruden’s departure, the emails provide “a unvarnished glimpse into the exclusive circle of a group of NFL insiders, which includes white men in key positions who are unreservedly sending pornographic photos around. mock the politics of the league and enrich their language with homophobic jokes ”.

In contrast to the efforts of a league that, with 70 percent black players, publicly distances itself from racism. And the tough disciplinary measures taken against athletes and coaches for domestic violence.

The main addressee of the Gruden emails was Bruce Allen, who served as chief manager at the Redskins from 2009 to 2019 and was fired for failure. Both men know each other from their time together at the Las Vegas Raiders, where Gruden was already employed as head coach from 1998 to 2001. And they had met again in Tampa Bay.

That explains the openness of the two in their written exchange of ideas. In an email, Gruden went so far as to tell Allen to ask a member of the Glazer family, who own the Buccaneers, to fellation him, according to the New York Times.

Everyone is said to have replied that Glazer would certainly accept this offer. It is not clear what consequences the revelations could have for everyone. Because he no longer works under the league’s spell since his dismissal in Washington. During his presidency, the team’s cheerleaders are said to have been forced to take part in a photo shoot in which they were supposed to bare their breasts. Gruden and Allen are also said to have sent these pictures to themselves.

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