Jon Gruden does not.
Just minutes after it was publicly revealed that Gruden had called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “faggot,” in addition to other homophobic and racist language, Gruden was forced to resign from his position as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, the very team that employs Nassib.
This is no small thing. One of the most storied franchises in American professional sports has said “yes” to a gay player and “no” to a coach who used a gay slur in emails a few years ago.
Gruden was the guy Raiders owner Mark Davis hand-picked to return to the Raiders and lead them into a new stadium, a new city. He’s the coach who beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl two decades ago. He was supposed to be the guy who brought the silver and black back to the promised land.
Yet according to reports, Davis simply couldn’t accept a potential trip to the Super Bowl if it meant doing so with someone who had sent graphic racist and homophobic emails.
“Mark, like his father, won’t tolerate anything he believes diminishes the Raiders. That brand doesn’t abide bigotry.”
In the moments after some of the contents of Gruden’s homophobic emails were publicly released, there was a flood of social media exchanges excoriating the NFL.
The general line was that this proves how anti-LGBTQ people in football really are.
Actually, it’s the complete opposite.
The fact that the openly gay player — Nassib — has a position with the Raiders and Gruden — who’s won a Super Bowl — has been forced to resign signals a powerful moment for the league. Leading up to it, the NFL has produced various messages of support for the LGBTQ community.
While some “fans” will ramp up their claims of boycotting the NFL for putting inclusion ahead of wins, Gruden brougt this upon himself.
I’m not a big fan of people losing their jobs or careers over stupid anti-LGBTQ language. I’ve been consistent about that over the years. People say stupid stuff, and I prefer a path to redemption that advances our inclusion in sports.
Yet Gruden has no one to blame but himself. This wasn’t just a flippant remark, this was a series of messages over the course of several years.
Those messages don’t reflect the direction of sports or the NFL. As we showed in our Out In Sports study, athletes widely accept their LGBTQ teammates. Nassib’s experience reflects this. Of the survey respondents who were out to coaches in the study, 83.8% said they had at least a “good” response from those coaches.
Gruden’s language in those messages don’t do this inclusive atmosphere justice. Even he had spoken publicly about his embrace of Nassib. Does anyone really think he cared if a player who could help him win a Super Bowl is gay?
Now people won’t remember that. They’ll remember the language in those emails. The slurs. Calling the NFL commissioner a “faggot.”
It looks just awful.
I personally wish this story had a different ending.
Even with that, Gruden’s forced resignation as head coach of the Raiders sends a powerful message about the state of the NFL in 2021.
Gay athletes are welcome. Coaches who use gay slurs are not.