Michael Sam takes high road after vile emails from Jon Gruden come to light

·Writer
·3 min read

One of the NFL's most stunning falls from grace in recent history roped in the league's first openly gay draftee.

Among the many vile things that Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden wrote in years-old emails was a castigation of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for allegedly pressuring then-Rams coach Jeff Fisher to draft "queers," an obvious reference to former Rams training camp defensive end Michael Sam.

Gruden has since announced his resignation, ending a saga that began with the publishing of a racist email about NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. The crack about Sam came in a report from The New York Times on Monday, which also included anti-gay and misogynistic slurs.

The Sam remark in particular stood out considering Monday also happened to be National Coming Out Day, something people on social media noted. One user decided to praise Sam rather than acknowledge Gruden, an idea Sam appeared to endorse with his first tweet since the Times report:

Gruden's resignation ended up taking all of 58 minutes after the publishing of his emails. Less than an hour after the editors at the Times hit "publish," NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Gruden had informed his coaching staff he planned to resign as Las Vegas Raiders head coach.

The fall from grace happened so shockingly fast that many just didn't have time to process it. That group included the crew at Gruden's old stomping grounds at ESPN's "Monday Night Football," which was airing a game between the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens at the time.

Among the commentators was Louis Riddick, who played for Gruden during the coach's first stint with the Raiders:

The reactions:

Brian Griese: It's awful to hear, and it was clearly more than just the one email exchange about DeMaurice Smith. With all those things coming out, I don't see any way that Mark Davis couldn't have the conversation with Jon Gruden. You cannot come back from that in this day and age, nor should he.

Louis Riddick: As someone who played for him, it's highly, highly disappointing, to say the least. I'll just leave it that. That all this is coming out about a guy, who... I'm just shocked."

Those were just some of the reactions on social media on a night with little precedent in the NFL. 

Many could only say "Wow." Some laughed about how grateful Urban Meyer must be to not be the center of attention anymore. Some wondered if ESPN should have been a little more forthright that it employed Gruden when he sent those emails. Some noted the Washington Football Team had found its way in another scandal. Some joked that Gruden just hit the top of the USC coaching search.

The whole saga was surreal and had only one ending: Gruden's ejection from the league.

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