Why Did the NFL Want Jon Gruden Out?

According to ProFootballTalk, the league would have continued to leak Gruden's emails until he was fired or resigned

Disgraced ex-NFL head coach Jon Gruden, formerly of the Las Vegas Raiders
Disgraced ex-NFL head coach Jon Gruden, formerly of the Raiders.
Ethan Miller/Getty

Hours after emails containing racist, homophobic, misogynistic and otherwise offensive content that he sent before being hired as the coach of the Raiders in 2018 were revealed by The New York Times on Monday, Jon Gruden resigned from his post, leaving more than six years and $60 million left on the contract.

“I have resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” Gruden said in a statement on Monday night. “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

The question is, did the NFL mean to hurt Gruden?

According to ProFootballTalk, the league would have continued to leak emails Gruden sent to former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen until he was fired or resigned. Since the league possesses a trove of more than 650,000 emails related to a workplace misconduct investigation into Washington that previously were entirely hidden, it seems very likely there would have been an ample supply of dirt to leak out about Gruden. What remains a little more unclear is why the league would single out Gruden, who previously worked for ESPN on Monday Night Football, and make an example out of him.

The league would like us to think that Gruden hitting the trifecta of racism, homophobia and misogyny is why he is out of a job, but the real reason why the 58-year-old coach is out is likely more complicated — or basic.

In Gruden’s emails, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was a frequent target and it is possible the commish didn’t like his name being dragged through the mud. It’s also possible the league wanted to help NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith get re-elected and released Gruden saying racist things about him via email in order to drum up sympathy for him and get votes. But really, the most likely reason why Gruden is out of a job is so the NFL doesn’t have to keep digging into its trove of emails and risk exposing more dirt about the league and its members.

“Does the league want us to regard Gruden as an outlier? Maybe. Or maybe the truth is that the league simply doesn’t want us to see how deep and dark and dirty the rabbit hole is,” per ProFootballTalk. “Gruden’s penpal, Bruce Allen, exchanged emails with plenty of people. Surely, he and Washington owner Daniel Snyder exchanged emails and text messages. Where are those?”

Gruden is rich. Snyder is wealthy. Perhaps the NFL just chose to side with the money and sacrifice Gruden in order to prevent having to release more information about Snyder. Mocking Goodell likely didn’t help matters.

With Gruden gone, longtime assistant coach Rich Bisaccia, who was serving as the Raiders’ special teams coordinator, will serve as interim head coach. Bisaccia served as Gruden’s special teams coordinator in Tampa Bay from 2002-2008.

Gruden, who was in his 15th season as a head coach in the NFL and won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay, finishes with a career record of 117-112.

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