No one among us is a saint — well, few of us are, anyway. Yet we all must stand tall against people who are the devil in fancy trappings. Too many wear such clothing.
One of them is Jon Gruden, the misogynistic, homophobic and racist former coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Gruden’s public persona didn’t match his private one, and the anger he voiced in emails about people who differed with him was beyond anybody’s ability to forgive straightaway.
And his bigoted emails keep on coming.
Still, that’s not my point here. As angry as I am about Gruden, I’m seething over the number of Black men like the myopic Tony Dungy who claim Gruden is misunderstood — that he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body.
Gruden’s players voiced early support for their ball coach. They believed Gruden when he said, “I’m not a racist.”
Didn’t we hear a president tell us what he wasn’t? In hindsight, Richard M. Nixon was what Black people thought he was: a crook.
Gruden is no different, but Black folks had been so willing to overlook what he was because of what he was doing. I suspect some athletes would play for Attila the Hun if he helped them win games.
As a people, we are overly willing to forgive personal flaws. We demand nothing from people who debase us, aside from a half-baked apology. That’s never enough, though.
The wages for racism, misogyny and homophobia should be high, and forgiveness shouldn’t be dispensed as easily as M&Ms.
I wish we treated people who show ill-will toward us the way Jews treat men and women who work against their interests. Jews continue to hunt Nazis who played roles in the Holocaust last century; they don’t apologize for their relentless approach to outing war criminals.
Now, I’m not comparing what Gruden wrote to Nazism. What I am saying, however, is bad people shouldn’t go unpunished. We have an obligation to ferret them out, expose them and exact appropriate penalties.
In Gruden’s case, the penalty should be to bar him from a sport he has spent his life in. He should stand in front of writers, his team and admit whom he is, which is a man who lacks compassion.
One former player put it this way: “He’s a bad person. I tried to tell people when I played for this man. We dealing with some race insensitive behavior by a head coach who many thought didn’t even deserve the opportunity to coach the Raiders.”
The former player was Keyshawn Johnson, an NFL analyst who roamed the hallways of ESPN when Gruden worked for the network. Johnson’s sentiments went unheard. Too many want to focus on the wins, not the racism.
To be sure, a person’s past can be forgiven. We all sin; some repent. Yet I’m more comfortable in forgiving when they repent on their own instead of when their egregious misconduct forces them to.
I can’t forgive that. Nor can I forget it.