IDIOT OF THE YEAR #1: Jon Gruden, the face of a rotten NFL

Ex-coach alleges ‘character assassination’ as league justifiably throws him under bus

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Jon Gruden
Illustration: Getty Images

Welcome to Deadspin’s IDIOT OF THE YEAR festivities! Nos. 50 through 11 are available for your enjoyment here. And our top 10:

10. Thom Brennaman

9. Ted Cruz

8. Rob Manfred

7. Kyrie Irving

6. Sage Steele

5. Urban Meyer

4. Chicago Blackhawks

3. Trevor Bauer

2. Aaron Rodgers

1. Jon Gruden

Do you ever wonder if Hillary Clinton sent Jon Gruden a “thank you” note? Because before this year, she was the face of an email scandal — until Gruden told the woman who should have been the rightful 45th president to “hold his beer.”

The former Las Vegas Raiders coach proved once and for all just how great mediocre white men have it in this world when the guy in the midst of a 10-year, $100 million deal — with a winning percentage barely over .500 — was outed as a being a member of the hateful trinity as his emails from 2011 (when he was a TV analyst) proved that he despises Black people, women, and the LGBTQ community.


Gruden said NFLPA President DeMaurice Smith had “lips the size of Michelin tires.” He actually tried to claim that one wasn’t racist, he didn’t “have a have a racist bone” in his body. He used homophobic slurs to describe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as well as openly gay draftee Michael Sam, who never made a team. (Gruden was the coach of Carl Nassib in Las Vegas, the league’s first openly gay player.) He also mocked the league using female referees and criticized Eric Reid and (who remains blackballed by the league) for the Colin Kaepernick kneeling movement.

And let’s not forget that Gruden is also why the Raiders all but broke the Rooney Rule when Mark Davis basically admitted to hiring Gruden before he fired Jack Del Rio. With Gruden in place, the Raiders hired Mike Mayock to be their general manager, a guy with no prior front office experience before he got the job — and who once said he’d take Blaine Gabbert over Cam Newton when he was a draft analyst on NFL Network.


Gruden has already filed a lawsuit against the league alleging “character assignation.”

“There is no explanation or justification for why Gruden’s emails were the only ones made public out of the 650,000 emails collected in the N.F.L.’s investigation of the Washington Football Team or for why the emails were held for months before being released in the middle of the Raiders’ season,” Adam Hosmer-Henner, one of Gruden’s lawyers, said in a statement.

Gruden had to go, but he’s also just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the NFL’s corruption. Because until Dan Snyder is removed in Washington and the emails about Colin Kaepernick are released, Gruden will be viewed as the lone bad apple instead of the fallen fruit from a toxic tree planted in a contaminated orchard.

If the NFL exposed Gruden to distract from something worse going on in Washington, the league could have the inside track on the 2022 Idiot of the Year.