But instead of using this moment to show actual remorse for what he did, Gruden — like most white men who get caught saying or doing something wrong — made things worse with his indignance at being held accountable. And after Sunday’s loss to the Bears, Gruden went full Brett Kavanaugh.

“I’m not a racist,” he declared. Which is what all racists say when they get exposed. He followed that up by saying, “I’m not going to answer all these questions today,” as he felt that a series of questions about the biggest story in the NFL was overkill.


When things you’ve never been qualified for get handed to you, it makes you soft. Like how when Gruden got a TV show when he was at ESPN, Jon Gruden’s QB Camp, he proceeded to fawn over every prospect he met with, and failed more than he succeeded with his predictions on their NFL careers. And then, when he returned to coaching, the Raiders signed him to a 10-year, $100 million contract, although his winning percentage is barely over .500 and he’s only made the playoffs five times in his 15 years as a head coach. However, rewarding a mediocre coach with a ridiculous contract wasn’t the most egregious thing the Raiders did in 2018 — it was whom they chose to put in power, and how they did it.

In case you forgot, Raiders owner Mark Davis basically admitted to hiring Gruden before he fired then-head coach Jack Del Rio. The Raiders skirted the Rooney rule, their interviews with Tee Martin and Bobby Johnson all for show. Then, with Gruden in place, the Raiders hired Mike Mayock to be their general manager. Mayock had no prior front office experience before he got the job — he was previously an NFL Network draft analyst who once said he’d take Blaine Gabbert over Cam Newton. But, according to reports, Gruden wanted Mayock, and the Raiders weren’t going to let the Rooney Rule stop them.


Two white men, in a Black league, were hired in positions of power from which people of color are often excluded, all because their employer finagled a rule put in place to prevent these exact situations from happening — or at the very least making them less common — all while neither Gruden nor Mayock had proven that they were worthy of the jobs, or the salaries that come along with them.

If this isn’t a picture-perfect example of how race and gender work for the benefit of unqualified white men in America, then I challenge you to find a better example.


Ultimately Gruden may be fined for his words, and could even face a suspension of some sort. However, whatever the “punishment” is, it won’t fit the crime. The league can’t come down on him too harshly since he wasn’t an employee at the time, and the Raiders’ hands are tied as well, as Gruden was working for ESPN when he hit send on that email.

So if you’re looking for somebody to make an example out of Gruden, that’s not going to happen. This is just the latest incident in which the flawed character of a white man in charge has been exposed, as we’re seeing just how so many people really think about people of color. However, the silver lining in all of this is that on Sunday, the Bears beat the Raiders. The win gave Justin Fields — a young Black quarterback — a winning record for the season, while Gruden was forced to play Nathan Peterman, the worst quarterback in NFL history. That’s sweet serendipity.