It was 2013. Colin Kaepernick had led the San Francisco 49ers to something they’d wanted for a long time:  the Super Bowl. He set records along the way to the game in New Orleans, and showed his ability to lead his team. In 2020, as the 49ers found themselves trying to make another playoff run, NFL announcers and the NFL itself avoided even mentioning Kaepernick’s name.

Tuesday morning, Jon Gruden resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. After a series of emails unearthed by the The New York Times and Wall Street Journal unveiled a long history of homophobic, misogynistic, racist emails that criticized the league and the players association.

Colin Kaepernick saw it coming, and he called it out. The end result? The league cast him out. The Hill summarizes the events:

In other emails, Gruden also denounced the hiring of women as referees and criticized players protesting for racial justice during the national anthem, the Times reported. He also used a racial trope to describe the physical appearance of NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.

Make no mistake, Jon Gruden should be unhirable.  I don’t always agree with Stephen A, but I normally appreciate his takes. His take on the situation with Jon Gruden addresses only a part of what is wrong with the NFL.

You see, the NFL has a store of more than 650,000 emails, as well as texts. Is this, in fact, all there is? I doubt it. So does ProFootballTalk:

Does the league want us to regard Gruden as an outlier? Maybe. Or maybe the truth is that the league simply doesn’t want us to see how deep and dark and dirty the rabbit hole is. Gruden’s penpal, Bruce Allen, exchanged emails with plenty of people. Surely, he and Washington owner Daniel Snyder exchanged emails and text messages. Where are those?

There is more than a small sickness inside of the NFL, something that has been known for some time. Colin Kaepernick was right. He paid the price, and the NFL has yet to really come to terms with the sickness inside of their own league. 

It isn’t about the nice logos on the helmets and the statements of solidarity. It is hard to believe the owner and others didn’t know this was going on. The difference is that the first newspaper to report it is the Wall Street Journal, which made a lot more impact than if the exact same report had appeared in The Root.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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