Jon Gruden, an NFL coach with a $100 million contract from the Las Vegas Raiders, was recently forced to resign after making what The New York Times called racist, homophobic, and misogynistic remarks in emails over the last 12 years. Shock! Horror! Pro footballers making misogynistic remarks—why, I never heard of such a thing! It’s definitely un-American.
Gruden won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 and then was a commentator for ESPN until hired by the Raiders. In other words, he’d been around forever, was highly respected, and knew the game and the people involved as well as anybody. Now he’s become a nobody overnight because the media and the football commissioner said so.
As in the Soviet of old, a nonperson is one found guilty by a kangaroo court, executed or disappeared by the regime, and never mentioned again. Over here, in the so-called freest country in the world, one does not even get a kangaroo court. One can turn into a nonperson overnight once the Times and the media decide that he or she used the wrong words.
Gruden’s bad words—and I apologize to readers, but they’re important to this story—ran as follows: Where racism is concerned, he makes fun of a black football executive’s lips being like tires. Where misogyny is concerned, he allegedly called Joe Biden and others “pussy,” and he uses the word “faggot” to describe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (who happens to be straight).
Now I like to think I’m not too racist, not too misogynistic, and not too homophobic, but having spent my life in locker rooms and in competitions, the offending words are more of a joke to me than insults. “Don’t be a pussy” is part of the language for God’s sake, and in the sport of wrestling—in which I competed for years—a full nelson is called a “faggot’s grip.” Speaking of fat lips, I can’t think of any boy with a full mouth who wasn’t called “liverlips” in the all-white, all-boys boarding school I attended.
Mind you, if Her Serene Highness Princess Alexandra Schoenburg-Hartenstein—now plain Mrs. Taki, my wife—used Gruden’s language, I might have raised an eyebrow. But in the world of professional sport where “motherf-----” is used nonstop as a greeting, noun, and verb, the coach’s words were almost innocuous. The NFL, being a franchise, can terminate someone if that someone brings the NFL into disrepute. In Gruden’s case, he resigned before being fired by the owner, who was under pressure from the commissioner. The NFL stated that those emails were “wholly contrary to the NFL’s values.”
I’d like you readers to know about these NFL values. They include selecting ex-Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis to sell NFL merchandise. Lewis pleaded guilty to an obstruction of justice charge, settling with the families of two homicide victims stabbed to death. The likely blood-soaked white suit Lewis was wearing that night mysteriously disappeared. They include inviting to entertain during Super Bowls what the New York Post calls “N-wording, women-bashing, gun-worshipping, crotch-grabbing” rappers. Compared to their lyrics, Gruden sounds like a gentleman.
Commissioner Goodell is as phony as they come. He dares speak about values, but panders to Snoop Dogg—a rapper who has produced pornography with underage girls and praises gun violence—and many others like him.
But in comparison with Brittney Cooper, a tenured professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, Goodell is a model of integrity. Cooper is a rather large black woman who recently went on record saying someone needs to “take out” white “motherf-----s.” She has encouraged the murder of whites, yet claims that she does not believe in violence. For a rapper to spout such nonsense would be too much; for a tenured professor at a large university to do so is more than outrageous—it is criminal.
Yet nothing will come of it. Perhaps because she was so articulate when speaking. “The thing I want to say to you is we got to take these motherf—kers out, but … I don’t believe in a project of violence,” she said. “All things that begin in white folks are not infinite and eternal.” Ah, she’s a poet! Keats would hide in shame were he alive.
America has become a country that makes Uganda feel democratic. Gruden, whom I don’t know, will never coach again, unless Albania starts a league. He is reportedly considering his options. Good luck. The NFL draft is now compared to a slave auction by failed quarterback Colin Kaepernick, with black athletes in shackles and their white owners whipping them. The analogy helps Kaepernick add to his millions, as it is part of a drama series.
“The louder the protest the richer the protester” is now the winning formula for today’s America. Something must be done, and soon—before Netflix, Hollywood, the NFL, and Silicon Valley take us down the Swanee.
Taki Theodoracopulos is a writer living in New York, London, and Gstaad. In addition to his long-running High Life column in The Spectator, Taki writes Under the Black Flag for each number of Chronicles, and publishes Taki’s Magazine, a webzine.