He sent those emails, The New York Times reported. In those messages, he used racist language, homophobic language, misogynistic language. He railed against commissioner Roger Goodell for trying to reduce the number of brain injuries suffered by players during the course of games and practice. He thought nothing of sending semi-nude photos of Washington Football Team cheerleaders, photos the women likely didn't know existed, to the other cronies in his circle.
Gruden always came across as the Hollywood stereotype of a high school varsity quarterback, the white kid who always has a couple of hangers-on in tow, ready to laugh at every puerile, offensive quip he had, always at the expense of others.
Clearly Gruden is that and more.
I have no sympathy for him. But what I can't square, and what is as repulsive as Gruden's emails, is that the NFL is fine with letting them leak but it continues to protect Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder like he's a human Fort Knox.
The breadth and depth of Snyder's involvement in and knowledge of the toxic workplace environment at the offices of his NFL team, an environment that festered for years, might as well be the nuclear codes.
After slow-walking its involvement last year and initially letting Snyder essentially investigate himself and his business, the league finally stepped in.
What did it find? We really have no idea. The NFL, in a transparently absurd move, decided not to be transparent with the findings.
Actually, that undersells it. The NFL told the firm that conducted the investigation not to produce a written report of its findings, instead asking it to make a presentation, like this was eighth-grade English and not a multi-billion dollar entity that had made things so uncomfortable, so hostile to dozens of women that many of them sought therapy and some were so desperate to escape they left without having another job in place.
No written report. Nothing that delineates clearly what Snyder knew, how long he knew, how involved he was in any or all of it.
The natural inclination is to assume that it was so bad for the privileged, highly-unlikable-even-to-his-equally-privileged-peers Snyder that Goodell and the league's franchise owners had to do what they could to make sure none of it saw the light of day. The league can't truly put action behind empty words about protecting women and demanding a workplace free of rampant sexual harassment, not when there's a wealthy white man who owns a high-visibility franchise to protect.
So Snyder got a fine that amounts to pocket change and was allegedly relieved of his day-to-day duties while still able to focus on how he'll
swindle raise public money for a new stadium, while sharing the team CEO title with his wife, who, lest we all forget, found the most friendly media outlet possible last month to whine about how hard it all has been for her, never expressing a modicum of empathy for the nearly 50 women who bravely shared the traumatic experiences they endured while employees of the team. Her husband's team. Her family's team.
Gruden's emails were part of that investigation. According to reports, there are roughly 650,000 emails that were combed through as part of the probe. And somehow it wasn't Dan Snyder who suffered any actual consequence from them, it was Jon Gruden?
That's not the only thing about this that's gross. It hasn't gone unnoticed that Gruden spewing dated, racist vitriol toward NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith in emails wasn't enough to get to this point. For all of the NFL's performative "end racism" field paint and helmet stickers, when there was an actual situation of clear racism, Raiders owner Mark Davis was seemingly content to let it slide, and the league was fine with it as well.
It's also gross to wonder what else is in that trove of emails. If you think it begins and ends with Gruden and his pen pal Bruce Allen, I have some oceanfront property in Idaho you might be interested in. The casual racism shown toward Smith and Eric Reid, the safety whom Gruden believed should be blackballed like his friend Colin Kaepernick for also kneeling during the playing of the anthem, underscores why Black men continue to be underrepresented in the head coaching and front-office ranks. If you harbor bigoted thoughts, you're not going to promote a Black man to be the face of your franchise or its chief decision-maker.
There have to be men all over the NFL and beyond on pins and needles wondering if their racist, anti-gay, misogynistic, semi-nude-sharing emails are about to see the light of day too, and what it might mean for them if they do.
Except Dan Snyder. He's sleeping well Monday night, knowing any and all of his misdeeds will be protected by the NFL.