But His Emails...

Another Day, another white man's misogynistic and racist behavior is exposed. This time in public

Well, here we are again - another day, another uncovering of brutally ugly words from a high-profile figure, from yet another wealthy white man.

This isn’t an attack on white men or wealth. Although both probably play a role in these sorts of things. In this instance, the rich white man struck the mother lode of sorts.

It was revealed late last week that Las Vegas Raiders head football coach Jon Gruden, (well now he’s the former head football coach) had sent an email that contained a racially insensitive comment about a black man, the executive director of the NFL Player’s Association, DeMaurice Smith.

“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires”

At best, it’s really just a stupid thing to say. If you’ve ever paid even the slightest amount of attention to racial issues, it’s quite obvious why this would stand out as racist. If you don’t know why this would be a big deal, start educating yourself. It’s 2021, ignorance doesn’t look good on anyone.

Perhaps, if that was all Gruden had said, we could forgive him. The email that contained the racial slur was sent in 2011. It’s a one-off of sorts, one could argue. After all, look at all the black players he’s coached - “They all love him” - I heard a few people say.

Before I continue, allow me to address a couple of things real quick.

  • Yes, it is very possible for a person to have friends of a different color and be racist, for a man to be married and be sexist, for someone to have gay friends and be homophobic.

  • Just because someone doesn’t think their words/actions are racist, it doesn’t make them not to be so.

Now it turns out, DeMaurice Smith wasn’t Gruden’s only target, and this wasn’t the only email that Gruden sent. In fact, there are at least seven years of Gruden emails that have been discovered. His emails are part of 650,000 emails that the NFL has been pouring over as part of an investigation into workplace misconduct involving the Washington Football Team (formerly the “Redskins” - a racist term). How bad were the emails?

“Gruden’s messages were sent to Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington Football Team, and others, while he was working for ESPN as a color analyst during “Monday Night Football.” In the emails, Gruden called the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football pussy” and said that Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, then the coach of the Rams, to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player chosen by the team in 2014.

In numerous emails during a seven-year period ending in early 2018, Gruden criticized Goodell and the league for trying to reduce concussions and said that Eric Reid, a player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired. In several instances, Gruden used a homophobic slur to refer to Goodell and offensive language to describe some N.F.L. owners, coaches and journalists who cover the league.” New York Times, October 11, 2021.

Interesting to note, this season, Gruden was coaching the first active gay NFL player, Carl Nassib. Gruden was also mad that the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, was promoting player safety. Apparently, the football coach didn’t like that parents were learning that concussions from repeated hits to the head, could be bad long-term.

Also, in other group email exchanges, Gruden and other men sent pictures of women wearing only bikini bottoms, mocked female NFL referees, dismissed Goodell’s promotion of racial equality and criminal justice reform and criticized attempts to have the Washington Football Team’s original nickname changed.

So let’s recap. Jon Gruden sent emails containing:

  • Racist tendencies

  • Misogyny

  • Homophobia

  • Intolerance toward those seeking social justice

What keeps running through my head is, why are we continually surprised?

We wonder how this keeps happening yet America’s history continues to be whitewashed. Favorite MLK lines are memorized so they are meme-readied when necessary. Never mind what MLK was fighting for, or really against, or that he was so hated in those days that he ended up dead.

Seriously though. Sure, there are those who insist that racism doesn’t exist in America. Obviously, there are also those who are afraid that teaching about America’s history will make their white kids feel bad. Imagine being privileged enough that hearing about slavery only made someone feel bad. Wait until they teach about the Trail of Tears, Black Wall Street or that women couldn’t vote until 1920.

Misogynistic Behavior

Did you know:

  • it is estimated that only 19% of sexual assaults are reported?

  • Or that 40% of women in the United States have experienced sexual violence?

  • Were you aware that 70 women commit suicide every day in the United States following an act of sexual violence?

  • 75 percent of rapes were planned?

  • Also, did you know that less than approximately five percent of rape allegations have proven false?

  • “The most effective way to reduce rape for the long term is by raising the social and economic status of women and the consciousness of men.” *US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

Women don’t lie about being raped.

Why do I share these statistics? When someone with power like Jon Gruden jokes or denigrates women, he’s belittling their worth. He’s showing he believes that women are less than men. He’s showing he believes that he, being male, has a higher worth to society. Sending photos of topless women via email to professional email addresses shows that Gruden wasn’t afraid of consequences, because usually, there aren’t any.

It’s toxic masculinity.

This time Gruden paid for it. The remaining six years on his 10-year, $100 million contract with the Raiders will go unfulfilled.

This isn’t a football story. It’s not a sports story.

It’s really just another example of how men (particularly white men) have used their power to attempt dominance over others. I’ve heard over and over the argument that “if they went through everyone’s emails in the NFL they’d have to get rid of so many people” as if it’s an excuse to look the other way. “You kidding, so many are like this!” as if the more misogyny the better.

I say, fine, investigate them all then. Get rid of them.

-JG