He might come cheap.
What are we thinking? Putting up this Photoshopped image of Jon Gruden as the next chancellor of the University of Wisconsin’s flagship Madison campus? (He could double as Paul Chryst’s offensive coordinator!)
We are sure to be condemned by all Woke-thinking reacting progressives. But we risk no highly compensated sinecure, no political office, no statue to be tossed into Lake Monona, no name to be stripped from the UW Memorial Play Circle.
As for our good reputation (if any remains), we equivocate by saying we post this provocation to jump start discussion on the limits of free speech. Is there no statute of limitations? Does context count? Any degrees of severity? You know, the sifting and winnowing thingie.
We stipulate: Constrained by the First Amendment, government has brought no prosecution. His private-sector employer, the Las Vegas Raiders football organization, is free to fire its head coach. No law stopping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — the team Gruden coached to a 2002 Super Bowl championship — from expunging his name from its circle of honor.
Still, we ask: were they justified in doing so? Or did they over-react?
We turn to a brave, contrarian essay in the American Spectator arguing that Jon Gruden is the latest victim of cancel culture. Author Scott McKay reports that:
- Gruden criticized football players for kneeling for the National Anthem. Is that no longer a subject of debate?
- Gruden used the term “queer” to describe a football player. McKay asks, “if it’s an anti-gay slur, then what does the “Q” in LGBTQ stand for?” Gruden was coaching an out, gay man on his Raiders team.
- Called Joe Biden a “nervous clueless p*ssy.” History may so record.
- Trashed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. As do most football fans.
Now the moral compass starts jumping
The executive director of the NFL Players Assn. is a man named DeMaurice Smith. Gruden wrote “Dumborris Smith.” So management disagrees with the union head. Big Whup! WHAT? He’s a black man. Now we’re treading on eggshells.
Gruden wrote that Smith “had lips like a Michelin tire.” Sounds racist as hell even here at the Werkes. McKay argues that Gruden was resorting to “an old redneck saying which has it that liars speak from rubber lips. Gruden said that’s what he meant.” (BTW: Isn’t “redneck” also a slur?)
McKay speculates this e-mail surfaced only when Smith was facing revolt from his membership and needed to play victim. McKay reports that Gruden’s former broadcast partner on Monday Night Football, Mike Tirico, vouches that Jon Gruden is not racist. So, too, former head coach and TV football commentator Tony Dungy. Both black men.
When did he say it? These characterizations were made 10 years ago — Where? — in private e-mails to friends. Chancellor Blank defenestrated Fredric March for something he did 50 years before his death, as a college sophomore.
Is Jon Gruden another Bull Connor? Pitchfork Ben Tillman? Nathan Bedford Forrest? Are we down to one strike, you’re out?
Blaska’s Bottom Line goes to McKay: “Gruden is now out of the NFL, which has booked hardly-wholesome rappers Dr. Dre’, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem for its Super Bowl halftime show. Satire is now obsolete.”