Commentary: Jon Gruden got caught. Who is next in sports?

Jon Gruden -Photo courtesy of Fox Sports.

Commentary: Jon Gruden got caught. Who is next in sports?
October 20
12:33 2021

By Dr. James B. Ewers Jr.

Everyone knows the old expression historians say is attributed to President Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”

In other words, you can’t hoodwink and bamboozle people forever.

Many of us are too believing and too gullible so at first blush, we often believe the carnival barkers. Our country does have its fair share of them. They are in all walks of life.

Just think and if we are honest with ourselves, we knew some of them personally when we were children, and now we know them as adults. Upon reflection, I grew up with a few of them.

In my neighborhood in Winston-Salem, they sold what we called “wolf tickets.” These were guys who gave you outrageous stories about their exploits and knew everything about every subject. However, at some point we found out the truth was not in them and they misrepresented themselves.

A recent carnival barker came to light and he is from the world of professional sports. He is now exposed for the world to see. It is Jon Gruden, former coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. He resigned from his coaching position last week.

The New York Times reported on a number of inappropriate emails that were written by Gruden during 2010-2018.

He used homophobic, racist, sexist and transphobic language. Some of his targets were NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, and former player Michael Sams, who is gay.

If you recall, Jon Gruden was an analyst for ESPN. He served as the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2002-2008. He won a Super Bowl with them in 2003. That team was Tony Dungy’s team. Gruden just inherited them. That is my opinion.

In his statement of resignation, he said, “I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

Gruden said in a press conference that he was not racist. That may well be. I cannot see his heart and I cannot read his mind. However, I can read what he wrote. Jon Gruden and no one else wrote those emails.

Maybe in a strange and sordid way, he is football’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Nonetheless, he is out of his football coaching job with the Las Vegas Raiders. He had a coveted job in the NFL. Gruden self-destructed. No longer will we see his “Chucky-like” appearance on the sidelines. We won’t have to listen to him any longer as a head coach in the National Football League.

During his stint with the Raiders, he developed a strong bond with his quarterback, Derek Carr. After Gruden announced his resignation on Monday, Derek Carr said, “If we just started opening up everybody’s private emails and texts, people would start sweating a little bit. Hopefully not too many.”

He added, “But maybe that’s what they should do for all coaches and GMs and owners from now on, is open up. You’ve got to open up everything. See what happens.”

The private emails written by Gruden were uncovered by NFL executives who were conducting an investigation of Bruce Allen, president of the Washington Football Team.

I am an old school guy, so I don’t have four cell phones and seven email addresses. I can barely keep up with what I have. 

I think the question at the inquiry desk is who will be next?

It is my opinion that someone from the wide world of sports will pop up and provide us with examples of poor judgment and bad decision-making. Technology does not lend itself to privacy. Hackers and scam artists are busy every day trying to ruin our lives.

We bid Jon Gruden farewell because he couldn’t fool all of the people all of the time.

James B. Ewers Jr., Ed.D., is a former tennis champion at Atkins High School in Winston-Salem and played college tennis at Johnson C. Smith University, where he was all-conference for four years. He is a retired college administrator. He can be reached at

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