The past couple have weeks have been a bit out of the norm for the NFL. Usually when a scandal of some sort pops up in regards to lewd behavior off the field, it is usually a player that has caused the problem. Here lately, it has been NFL head coaches that have been the bigger issues. Sure there have been scandals in the past with Bill Belichick in DeflateGate and Sean Payton with BountyGate. But in the past two weeks, two NFL head coaches have been found participating in sexual misconduct, sexual discrimination or using racial slurs via email.
Urban Meyer is a train wreck of a human being when it comes to managing his teams off the field. As everyone knows Meyer has had a litany of issues while coaching college football at both the University of Florida and Ohio State University. At Florida, he had a record number of players get arrested for a variety of issues. At OSU, Meyer admitted to being aware of the fact one of his coaches sexually abused his wife, but never stepped forward to let authorities know about it. Now as the head coach of the Jacksonsville Jaguars, Meyer was seen two weeks ago in Cincinnati at a bar whereby he can visibly be seen fondling a young woman while she grinded on his pelvic region. Keep in mind, Meyer is a married man.
The most recent issue that has come to light is with the Las Vegas Raiders where now former head coach Jon Gruden was not exactly exhibiting what it takes to be a great leader. According to the New York Times, Gruden had sent emails from 2010 through 2018 in which he used sexist, homophobic and transphobic language. It was then later uncovered that Gruden exchanged emails with former Washington Football executive Bruce Allen. The New York Times had the following to say on the matter:
Gruden also reportedly exchanged emails with Allen and others that included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms. One photo reportedly included two Washington Football Team cheerleaders. Per the Times, Gruden and Allen also sometimes included Ed Droste, the co-founder of Hooters; Jim McVay, an executive who has run the Outback Bowl; and Nick Reader, the founder of PDQ Restaurants, in the emailsCREDIT: NewYorkTimes.com
What’s next? How many more times will NFL head coaches be caught doing something off the field they should not be doing? Further, is the NFL doing anything to prevent this sort of behavior? Is Urban Meyer being forced to go through any sort of sensitivity training? Will Jon Gruden ever hold another position in the NFL, and should he even be allowed to for that matter?
Look, I am not a fan of “cancel culture.” I believe in people getting second chances. But unfortunately, the world we live in today is much different than it was 10 years ago, and 10 years before that. Unfortunately, there is no changing how the world operates. Social media has done a great job of making the world more sensitive than it needs to be at times. In no way am I condoning the words that Gruden used in his emails nor am I endorsing Meyer’s behavior in the bar a couple of weeks ago, but completely eliminating a person’s job for mistakes they made (in Gruden’s case) years ago seems a bit harsh. As far as Meyer goes, he technically broke no NFL rules. He just engaged in elicit activity outside of his marriage that was caught on video, and more or less embarrassed the organization he worked for.
For whatever reason, politicians seem to get many chances in their careers. Many elected officials have been caught having affairs, lying to their constituents, and even using homophobic or racial slurs but still get to keep their jobs. If the average person was to use a word like that in public, they more often than not would not be in a position to lose their job. While the person may be wrong in their actions, does it necessarily mean that they should lose their livelihood?
So what is the best way to rectify situations like Urban Meyer’s and Jon Gruden’s cases. In the federal government, if you make a mistake like Gruden did you do not automatically lose your job. You are forced to go through various classes and seminars on various types of sensitivity training in hopes that you come out on the other side as a better person. The point is, immediately firing someone because of their off the field actions should necessarily be warranted. Yes, Jon Gruden was wrong for using the words he did many years ago when he was not even part of the league. He used choice words that under no circumstances are ok to use. However, I think it is safe to say that people can make a concerted effort to make changes in their life and become a better person. Gruden should have been given this opportunity, but unfortunately, “cancel culture” won yet again and the Raiders organization did what they had to do in order to come out on the winning side of a current public relations nightmare.
The NFL is not going away folks. It can weather any storm and has proven so for quite some time. It does not matter the severity of the scandal. The NFL has and always will be able to move on, because they put out an enjoyable product that it’s fanbase loves, craves and desires. Because of that, NFL fans tend to be very fickle and forget things quickly. “Cancel Culture” can be overcome specfically in the NFL if the organization put it’s best foot forward to rectify situations by being up front with its fanbase as to how they plan on handling situations, updating the fanbase on how actions taken step by step, and then having the perpetrator address the fanbase after his/her sentencing/punishment has been completed. I promise you, we as NFL fans will always move on. There have been numerous scandals that have rocked the NFL in the past 20 years, and every single time they come out of the messes stronger than ever.
Is Urban Meyer a bit of a pervert? Maybe. Is he in the running for husband of the year? Probably not. But I’m confident that many of our readers here are not perfect. I am willing to bet many of you surf the internet looking at pornography and many of you have had dalliances dalliances outside of your marriages or relationships, whether it was something that can be viewed as innocent or full on adultery.
For any of you adult males out there, did you read what Gruden actually said? I am confident that many of you have used those homophobic words before. Unfortunately in the age and times we grew up in, it was considered the norm to use some of those words when insulting another man. When we were younger, we all used words like that and used those words oftentimes in a jocular manner. Of course as we grew up, we learned it was not ok to use words like that. As we grew up, we changed. Gruden may have been an adult when he used those words, but as the world changes so do our viewpoints on things. We often realize as we get older that the last thing we would want to do is hurt another person. Gruden seemed very sincerely in his apology. Was it enough? Of course not, the man clearly needs some time to think out his actions and pursue some form of sensitivity training.
Simply firing somebody for their actions or suspending someone for a certain amount of games does not fix the problem. It does not tap into the mind of the individual and fix the problem at hand. Sure, it will upset them and the hope is that the person will learn their lesson. But that is not what changes a person for the better. Coaches or players who get caught up in issues like this need to be forced to better themselves, again, be it through various vigorous trainings whereby they can actually learn something.
As a parent, I have learned that when my child does something wrong, just sending them to their room or raising my voice at them will not fix the problem. Sure, sometimes you need to do those things. But it’s not enough. Having them explain back to me what they did wrong, coupled with me given them reasons why what they did was not ok, helps them learn from their mistakes. Sure, fining somebody, suspending them, or even firing them hits them where it hurts financially. But there are always ways to make money. The player/coach may have even learned their lesson, but that lesson they learned simply means they need to be more careful with their words or actions. It does not necessarily mean that they have changed who they are as a person.
The bottom line is this. Guys like Urban Meyer and Jon Gruden have been ridiculed for their actions as of late, and understandably so. I think it is great to some extent that they are being held accountable for their actions, but I believe it can be done in other ways to help foster a better crop of morally balanced head coaches and players in the NFL. This is not the first and certainly not the last time we will behavior based issues among players and coaches in the NFL. My only hope is that the league eventually finds a way to overcome “cancel culture” and figure out how to fix what is broken instead of just throwing it away.