It didn’t last as long as many expected but the Jon Gruden era as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders is over. In the last week, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times unearthed emails from the coach that contained racist, sexist and homophobic language from the coach, which forced him to resign on Monday. One of the most popular figures in the NFL will now be a pariah and is unlikely to get another coaching job.
Some former players have come out and defended Gruden but not Keyshawn Johnson. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver played under the coach for two seasons and was even part of the Super Bowl-winning team in 2002. At that time, Gruden was on top of the world and hailed as one of the best coaches in the world. However, Johnson was never buying into the hype.
“He’s just always been a fraud to me,” Johnson said on ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill and Max. “From day one he’s been a used car salesman and people bought it.”
Johnson also revealed that Gruden played a large role in why he forced his way off the team. While not everybody had the same experience with the coach, he clearly rubbed Johnson the wrong way.
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Ryan Russell Doesn’t Believe Gruden Resigning Is Enough
There are bound to be a lot of opinions surrounding Gruden and his emails in the coming weeks but the Raiders players are staying quiet right now. Unfortunately for them, they still have a job to do and it’s still early in the season. One of the most notable aspects of Gruden’s emails was the use of homophobic language.
The Raiders currently have the only openly gay player in the NFL on their roster in Carl Nassib. Though he wasn’t out when he played, former Buccaneers defensive end Ryan Russell believes that this issue goes well beyond just Gruden.
“I don’t think it’s enough, I think it’s reactive of the investigation of what is happening,” Russell said Tuesday, who came out as Bisexual in 2019, via CNN.
“I think the next step that the league needs to take is being proactive in making sure that the coaches that they hire, the players that they draft, the organization that they form are being inclusive, are being supportive and are held to that standard not when things come to light but all the time.
“That’s accountability, doing the right thing when no one is looking. The integrity level is what is being challenged here.”
Raiders Players Have to Move on While Front Office Fixes Mess
Raiders owner Mark Davis placed a seriously bad bet when he gave the keys to the franchise to Gruden. He gave the coach all the control and money he could ever want. He rewarded Davis with a 22-31 record in a bit over three seasons and a massive scandal. There’s no denying this was an error for the owner to make.
The Raiders players and coaching staff have nothing to do with how Gruden speaks so they are blameless in this. However, they’ll be the ones who have to soldier on and play football. They could either rally around each other and try to push through or fall apart. Either way, nobody will blame them for the outcome. Davis has a massive mess to clean up and it could derail a once-promising 2021 season.