Raider realist
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FSM Presents: The Raiders Realist – Jon Gruden’s Truth Set Him Free

Franchise Sports Media

 

“Well, you may throw your rock and hide your hand. Working in the dark against your fellow man. But as sure as God made black and white, what’s done in the dark will be brought to the light.”

-Johnny Cash, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”

 

 

Raider Realist
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

There’s an old saying, that pride comes before the fall. Never has there been a more startling case than the rapid public descent of Jon Gruden, now the former head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Understand, as wild as this situation is, it could have been avoided. Yes, there’s no doubt in my mind that none of this had to happen.

All Jon Gruden had to do, was not be a bigot. Hard to believe for some, I am sure. But yes, if Gruden had simply abstained from calling other men ‘f****t’ or ‘q****s’, railing against women working in the National Football League, or referring to the executive head of the National Football League Player’s Association as “Dumborris” like some modern-day Archie Bunker, he would still be in Henderson preparing the Raiders for this week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Understand, no matter what you feel about the so-called cancel culture, no one is to blame for this except Jon Gruden. Period. Criminal law has statutes of limitations on crimes, society does not. Countries discovered men hiding as Nazis in plain sight decades after World War II ended, and deported them for their heinous actions. Other men have rightfully lost their jobs for awful things said publicly in the sports world way back in the 1980s.

 

So let us please stop trying to make martyrs out of people who say terrible things. Better yet, stop justifying bigotry.

 

Raider Realist
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

Liking someone else’s way of life is not a requirement. Do you know what else isn’t? Denigrating them with slurs and vile language. It is telling that so many Americans default to the perpetually incorrect defense of First Amendment rights, which for the last time does not protect you from losing a job in the private sector.

I have to be honest. Even as a Black man, I did not think the initial email that was leaked warranted punishment for Gruden. That caused a lot of reactions from some people I know on a personal level. But the thing is, in my heart of hearts, I know many of us say questionable things when we have assumed privacy. And honestly, I have made jokes to family and friends about the size of their lips. While I realize the obvious difference between an intra-racial conversation like mine and an interracial one like Jon Gruden had in reference to DeMaurice Smith, it still did not reach the level of something so egregious that he should be fired.

The only problem was, I gave Jon Gruden the benefit of the doubt that it was a one-off email made in a heated moment. Certain things are one strike and you are out. I just did not feel that a childish email written off in anger was one of them. So to find out that not only did he disparage one black man, but he also attacked another for exercising an actual First Amendment right to silent protest (Eric Reid), another for his homosexuality (Michael Sam), and used slurs to describe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell while somehow finding time to bemoan the presence of women as referees in the game, well that was about four or five bridges too far.

 

What truly bothers me about this entire ordeal, is that Gruden blatantly lied about all of this.

 

Raider Realist
Photo Credit: AP

He stated at the press conference where he addressed this that it was a one-off situation. If nothing else, that should be disappointing and truly a disqualifier for those defending him. Alas, we are in the middle of a war of sides, something I never thought I see. Where basic decency and respect for other people is literally up for debate among American citizens.

I have to be honest, the Raiders have not been much of a priority in regards to this story for me. It feels a helluva lot larger than my favorite football team. The fact that Jon Gruden is being used as a proxy by some members of the media makes me sick. We are always talking about bridging gaps and bringing people together. Those days are gone. The real danger is the erosion of basic respect and how the same awful ideologies of bias, bigotry, and hate are being treated as battles for free speech in 2021.

As I sit here, that is what I truly worry about. What was the line of demarcation? Something feels permanently different about the very idea of right and wrong. Even if I disagreed with someone politically 20 years ago, there was a fairly universal agreement that using slurs and other disrespectful and hateful language came with consequences. Now, it is treated as almost virtuous.

 

What really stinks about it is the hard truth that those that defend Gruden cannot validate anything he said. All they can do is obfuscate.

 

Raider Realist
Photo Credit: ESPN

“Well it was 10 years ago!” (the emails were as recent as 2018 after Gruden was hired as Raiders coach).

“Well it was sent in private!” (from a business/work email, which never has an assumption of privacy).

“Get over it!” (straight out of the ‘Ways to respond to slavery and Jim Crow playbook’).

Ultimately, as a Raiders fan that has lost a ton of respect for a coach I had admiration for, here is what I hope happens. I hope Jon Gruden is finally contrite about the place where this bigotry comes from. You simply do not talk this way about people without it, no matter the lame excuses about so-called locker room talk. I was a United States Marine. I have heard many things in this kind of setting and only the bigots said bigoted stuff.

I also hope Gruden ultimately is used as a source by someone on the executive side of the NFL to address this. Much the way Dr. Harry Edwards hired Al Campanis after his disgraceful appearance on Nightline in 1987 and his subsequent firing by the Los Angeles Dodgers. If the NFL is serious about this and not simply looking to please a portion of its fan base that treats anything they don’t like as ‘woke culture’, Gruden can be a point man to help address and eradicate this.

Because here are the brass tacks people. Women are not going anywhere. Carl Nassib will not be the last gay man to openly play in the NFL. And black athletes will continue to express themselves in the ongoing fight for equity and social justice in the United States of America. To quote the very people upset with this reality, if you do not like it, well, “Get over it!”

Mark Davis did.

 

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CJ Baldwin – Franchise Sports Media

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