Jon Gruden resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders this week after his past emails containing racist, anti-LGBTQ+ language were made public. And players, coaches, and pundits have been airing their opinions on both his offensive choice of words as well as his character.
The head coach of Gruden's former AFC Division rival San Diego Chargers, Brandon Staley, made it clear Gruden's had no place in the NFL.
"I think that respect and trust in this world are really, really difficult to achieve, and I think about all the people that were affected by those emails," Staley was quoted by Yahoo Sports. "Whether you're a person of color, whether, you know, a gender, your sexual orientation. The people that were affected by those emails, that's who I'm thinking about."
Out Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib has yet to speak publicly about Gruden's emails and resignation, instead taking a personal day off from work to 'process' the situation.
"He just said he's got a lot to process," Raiders general manager Mike Mayock was quoted by The Athletic. "There's a lot that's been going on the last few days. And of course, we support that request."
The emails, dating back to 2011, came to light during an investigation into sexual harassment allegations in the Washington Football Team's front office.
One person referenced in the emails was former Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, who jumped on Twitter to deny Gruden's allegation that he was pressured by the NFL to draft out defensive end Michael Sam. Fisher said he drafted Sam because of his skill set and proven abilities as a pass rusher.
Sam was cut in the preseason by the Rams, was not picked up by another NFL team, and eventually wound up playing in the Canadian Football League before leaving the team for personal reasons.
Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers said Gruden is the exception, not the rule, of the modern NFL, and agreed with Staley that his words don't belong in the game.
"I know that there's opinions similar to that, but I feel they're few and far between," Rodgers said Tuesday on the Pat McAfee Show Live podcast, referring to the racist, anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments Gruden expressed in the emails. "The player and the coach of today is a more empathetic, advanced, progressive, loving, connected type of person. I'm proud of the kind of locker room we have. We need to allow people to grow and change, but those opinions don't have a place in the game."
Former wide receiver Keshawn Johnson, who starred under Gruden for the Buccaneers during their 2003/2004 championship run with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, described his former coach as a "fraud" and a "used car salesman." He added that "people bought it because he inherited a championship team built by Tony Dungy and Rich McKay, and he came in there with a little bit of different energy than we had with Tony, and it kind of kicked us over the top to get our world championship, which I am grateful for. But at the same time, I also saw through who he was through that journey of getting a championship."
Johnson went on to describe how the team's general manager, Rich McKay, left the team in the tail end of its championship season allegedly because he couldn't stand working with Gruden.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal sports reporter Vincent Bonsignore, Gruden said he wasn't racists and the derogatory term he used to describe Morris's lips was referencing his propensity for lying rather than the color of his skin.
Gruden was in the middle of an unusual 10-year contract with the Raiders, where he was head coach and also took on the majority of player personnel decisions. He has been replaced on an interim basis by Rich Bisaccia. Bisaccia, 61, most recently served as assistant head coach and special teams coach. He takes the reigns of a squad that opened the season with three straight wins, only to drop the next two games for a 3-2 record. The Raiders play division rival Denver Broncos this Sunday.
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