The NFL and its fans are still reeling from the Jon Gruden scandal that broke earlier this week, costing him his job with the Las Vegas Raiders. A series of leaked emails, gathered as part of a larger investigation into the Washington Football Team and former president Bruce Allen, showed us an ugly side of Gruden, revealing racist, homophobic and misogynistic tendencies while shedding light on some of the societal prejudices still prevalent behind closed doors (particularly in the NFL, a majority black league dominated by its unfathomably rich and privileged owners, nearly all of whom are white).
Gruden’s bigoted remarks weren’t met with much surprise, though former radio personality Mike Golic, who had a working relationship with Gruden during their time together at ESPN, didn’t see this coming. “I’ve known Jon for years. We had him on [Mike and Mike] weekly. If you were to ask me, ‘You knew him somewhat, did you see this coming or does this surprise you?’ Hell yes this surprises me,” Golic shared with Jon “Stugotz” Weiner of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “I never was like, ‘Oh yeah, Jon Gruden will say something racial or misogynistic or homophobic.’ I didn’t see that.”
Golic’s reaction was similar to that of Mike Tirico, who defended his former Monday Night Football colleague when the Gruden controversy was discussed on NBC last Sunday (only a small sampling of the disgraced coach’s emails had been leaked at that point). “Name me the last person where something came out on [them], where they checked just about every box you could of hate against someone? It blows my mind,” said Golic, offering an emphatic “nope” when asked if he thought Gruden would ever coach or work in the NFL again. “It’s like Gruden had a machine gun and just was spraying it and hitting everybody.”
On the same podcast, Chris Simms of NBC Sports didn’t seem particularly thrown by Gruden’s downfall, but marveled that his former coach was careless enough, not just to put his disgusting views in writing, but to express them on an easily traceable corporate email account. “The language he was using, I can’t say that I was actually surprised by that. I wasn’t,” said Simms, who played for Gruden in Tampa Bay from 2003-07. “I never witnessed him saying anything of that nature as far as racist when I was playing for him for six years in the NFL, but I’m not surprised to hear that that’s the way he talked.”
Gruden’s public reckoning has cost him not only his job (and the wealth that came with it), but also his reputation with one of his former teams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, promptly removing him from their Ring of Honor.