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The Scapegoat: Jon Gruden Feels The NFL's Wrath

Updated: Aug 6, 2022

Maximilien Robespierre, the architect of the French Revolution's Reign of Terror in the late 1700’s executed over seventeen thousand of his enemies during his rule. His life saw the same end when his constituents turned against him. Today in Las Vegas, Jon Gruden’s football coaching career is seeing the same demise.

The New York Times published an article over the weekend that uncovered a repulsive, but not shocking slew of emails that showed Gruden using abhorrent language when describing N.F.L. leadership, players and officials. The icing on the cake, and what has to have the former Super Bowl winning head coach truly sick to his stomach is that the investigation where the emails were discovered had nothing to do with him.

Much like Jordan Belfort’s takedown in the movie “Wolf of Wall Street '' where his empire begins to crumble when one of his partners is arrested along with the founder of Benihana. The center of this investigation was the Washington Football Team and Dan Snyder’s toxic work environment. It had nothing to do with Jon Gruden or the Las Vegas Raiders.

Conveniently enough, the eleven-month investigation led by Beth Wilkinson which reviewed over 650 thousand emails, yes that number is correct, 650 THOUSAND concluded Snyder and his partners in Washington had everything running in accordance with league policies. The N.F.L. Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, who was the subject of a racial trope in an email written by Gruden issued this statement today regarding the investigation:

“We have had communications with the league, and the NFLPA plans to request that the NFL release the rest of the emails.”

Interesting. This report was finished and the findings were presented three months ago over Fourth of July weekend. Why all of the sudden is Smith and his team demanding to see the emails that involved the main focus of the entire investigation?

Seems very strange, considering Snyder and his cohorts were accused of the wrongdoings. League commissioner Roger Goodell is smart enough to realize that the players and coaches don’t pay his salary, the owners do. He’s demonstrated that knowledge frequently, a prime example being back in 2017 when now deceased Texans owner Bob McNair said the following at an owners meeting

“We can't have the inmates running the prison.”

In response to N.F.L players taking a knee during the United States national anthem. Goodell didn’t bat an eye and no punishment was given to McNair. The former owner did issue a mediocre apology in the days following but later went back on it a year later saying

“The main thing I regret is apologizing; I really didn’t have anything to apologize for.”

The league’s personal conduct policy reads:

Everyone who is part of the league must refrain from “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in” the NFL. This includes owners, coaches, players, other team employees, game officials, and employees of the league office, NFL Films, NFL Network, or any other NFL business.”

Well, comments like that certainly were detrimental to the league’s image, so where was the punishment/fine for McNair? Nowhere to be found. Goodell however takes a great deal of exception when a color analyst on Monday Night Football which is what Jon Gruden was at the time of his ignorant and insensitive email exchanges is critical of him.

Gruden got what he deserved. It is a privilege to be in the position he was in and anyone who speaks and feels the way he clearly did is no leader. However, he was the scapegoat for a much larger issue that the N.F.L has. Roger Goodell continuing to pick and choose who has to abide by the league’s policies is a recipe for disaster. This is only the tip of the iceberg and Goodell is the captain of the Titanic.

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