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Graney: Jon Gruden had to go

It was the only plausible outcome. Whether it was his choice or made by those who employed him, Jon Gruden had to go.

It wasn’t just a few emails. It was an ugly pattern over years and years. And patterns aren’t good.

He could no longer be head coach of the Raiders. Of any NFL franchise, really. Not in 2021. Likely never again.

Gruden resigned from the organization Monday night in the wake of a New York Times report that he used misogynistic and anti-gay language in numerous emails during a seven-year period beginning in 2011.

Resigned from the franchise that lured him back to the sidelines in 2018 with a reported 10-year contract worth $100 million.

“I have resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” Gruden said via statement. “ I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt anyone.”

Some words in those emails make the latter debatable.

Legacy tarnished

The only surprise is that a move one way or the other — Gruden resigning or owner Mark Davis firing him — took days. The NFL said last week that it shared those emails with the Raiders in which Gruden made the derogatory comments.

The vulgarity within them wasn’t changing. Some level of discipline was warranted upon learning the scope of Gruden’s comments. This was the correct path to take. He embarrassed the organization.

The legacy of a Super Bowl-winning coach is now tarnished forever, perished to the lonely canyon of highly insensitive and dreadful remarks that once housed the likes of Al Campanis and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder.

I’m not sure where in the game Gruden works again in a leading or secondary capacity, be it on the field or in the television booth. There is no dressing up such an ending.

Had his coach not stepped aside, Davis would have been left with these questions: Who did he want running the organization of his and his late father?

Whose face? Whose reputation?

Should the person in charge of what has been one of sport’s most tolerant and accepting of franchises be the same one who wrote those words?

The man who, according to the Times, said in emails to longtime friend and former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen …

* That league commissioner Roger Goodell was a “f——-” and a “clueless anti football p——.”

* That the commissioner should not have pressured former Rams coach Jeff Fisher into drafting “q——-,” referring to Michael Sam, a gay player chosen by the team in 2014. This, a head coach in Gruden who until Monday was in charge of a team that includes defensive end Carl Nassib, the NFL’s first openly active gay player.

* Gruden also criticized the emergence of women as referees and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem. This, after the Wall Street Journal reported last week that Gruden emailed Allen and described players union chief DeMaurice Smith, who is Black, as “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of Michelin tires.”

Owner and coach

Davis loves Gruden like a brother. This was the coach he believed could return the franchise to glory. Or, heck, merely to the playoffs. Hasn’t worked out that way thus far. Gruden departs with a 22-31 record in his second stint directing the Raiders.

The entire narrative that led to Monday’s resignation was all just so unacceptable. Ten years ago. Ten minutes ago. Doesn’t matter. Something had to be done, no matter the close relationship between owner and coach.

It’s a lesson for others going forward should some actually embrace it. And perhaps the entire mess helps society evolve and move more and more away from such comments. Even a few small steps. They will never be totally eradicated.

Many fans will only care about what this means to the bottom line of winning and losing. That’s sports — there will always be people who will look past the disgusting things Gruden wrote over several years.

A few emails is one thing. A pattern is another.

Gruden chose the latter and it cost him his job and so much more.

He had to go.

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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