Current and former players have been left to answer questions about Jon Gruden’s character, following the 58-year-old’s abrupt resignation from the Las Vegas Raiders this week. The latest to chime-in was former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Shaun King.
King, who played under Gruden for two seasons, spoke at length in a recent interview about the investigation that revealed Gruden had sent numerous emails to former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen over a seven-year span from 2011 to 2018 containing racist, homophobic and misogynistic language.
Things began to unravel in Las Vegas after just one of those emails was revealed to the public before the Raiders game last weekend against the Chicago Bears. In the correspondence from 2011, Gruden used an offensive racial trope to describe NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.
King, who is Black, addressed that specific email first in an interview with Compare.bet.
“The first email I saw was the one directed at (NFLPA executive director) DeMaurice Smith. I was shocked by it, actually, because it was so distasteful and so unnecessary. It illuminates that sometimes you think you know someone, and maybe you don’t. You just know what their presentation to you is. It was disappointing,” King said, per Ryan Gaydos of FOX Sports.
An entire trove of emails was uncovered on Monday night this week by The New York Times, which revealed that Gruden’s offensive language spanned far more than just a single letter. In additional emails, the former Buccaneers head coach used a gay slur on multiple occasions and directed a series of comments containing offensive language towards women at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Once The New York Times published the findings, King knew that Gruden was finished as the Raiders head coach.
“What has the NFL been pushing from a narrative standpoint? Upward mobility and equality for women. You see women being hired within a lot of organizations in roles that traditionally were only for men. And inclusivity, whether it be sexual, religion, right to protest. When those emails came out, I knew the end was near. You can’t defend that verbiage,” King said.
The former Buccaneers quarterback continued by saying that he never viewed Gruden as a racist during his personal interactions with him. However, King explained that the emails paint a far different picture of the head coach.
“He just has to look inside, because when you write something like that and send it, you mean it. If you’re joking with your boys, hydrating and having a couple cocktails, somebody might say something slick. But when you sit down and form sentences… it’s hard to turn around and say you didn’t mean anything by it. In my personal interactions with Jon Gruden, I never viewed him as racist, but those emails depict a different person,” King added.
King likely won’t be the last former player of Gruden’s to try and make sense of the week’s events. Already, the Buccaneers, where King and Gruden worked together, have given their response to the scandal and removed the head coach from the franchise’s Ring of Honor.
No matter how others address the matter moving forward, one thing remains clear: the NFL still has a long way to go in combatting intolerance around the league.
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