There has been a lot said and written about Jon Gruden in the wake of the email scandal that led to him resigning as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. One of the most pressing questions to come out of all of it is, what else is being said by NFL coaches and executives when the public can’t see?
That’s at the heart of the issue for New Orleans Saints defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, who has led the way amongst NFL players on social justice issues and is the lead player voice for the NFL’s “Let’s Listen Together” initiative. Jenkins recently spoke with the “AP Pro Football Podcast” and said that he was not surprised about the content of the emails but hopes to spark a larger conversation and focus on what else is happening in those circles.
“I can’t say that I was surprised at all that kind of dialogue is happening behind the scenes,” Jenkins said. “I think that we understand the culture of the NFL, and we can put ‘Inspire Change’ logos all over the field and create logos all we want, but until you actually change what leadership looks like, you can’t expect to change the culture.”
“In the case of Jon Gruden, obviously it’s very disappointing to the people who respected him, look up to him and the man he was to our league. But I think if we focus only on Jon Gruden, then we miss the bigger picture, which is that he was able to exist like that because the culture around him accepted it. When he sent those emails, nobody raised a red flag, nobody brought it to anybody’s attention. It was a normal thing.”
“And I think that’s the culture behind the scenes that we need to change. And so again, we can clap our hands at all of the pageantry that we’ve done now as everybody’s kind of come to this social justice narrative, but until you start to see a change in leadership, whether it be more Black coaches, more Black GMs, a diversity in ownership, then I don’t know how we expect the culture of the NFL to change.”
With a lot of questions swirling around whether or not the rest of the emails will be revealed, the impact of what we’ve already seen, and what we can assume is still out there, will be felt for some time to come.