Jon Gruden: The Worst Father-in-Law on Facebook
One of my favorite humor tropes when writing an opinion column is the Facebook father-in-law.
You can picture him, right? Balding, paunchy, 50- to 60-something, long-suffering wife, exasperated adult children: the network television crime procedural demographic. I adopted him as a barely coded racist/sexist stock character who could slip past the censors at nervous media outlets. The Facebook father-in-law is the person who wrote letters to the editor about Cam Newton's hats and claimed to stop watching the NFL four years ago because of the protests (yet always knows who won on Sunday). He's the guy who ruins Thanksgiving. You don't want him babysitting your kids overnight because he'll make them watch The Outlaw Josey Wales so they can learn about manhood (especially if they are girls). He may not be your actual father-in-law, but you still know a half-dozen of him, and his most distinguishing characteristic is that he can't stop bleating his hateful, hurtful sociopolitical opinions as publicly as possible, ignoring every hint that it's time to shut the hell up.
It turns out that Jon Gruden is a Facebook father-in-law. We should have known all along. The racist emails about DeMaurice Smith that were made public on Friday were just the tip of the iceberg. Gruden, per Ken Belson and Katherine Roseman of the New York Times, just couldn't stop sharing his thoughts about female referees, gay players, and foxy cheerleaders (plus Rodger Goodell and various political figures) with Washington Football Team exec Bruce Allen, a piece of work in his own right.
Of course, all the racist, sexist, and homophobic slurs were preserved in emails, because men like Gruden (and Allen) checked out technologically circa 1998. There are probably hundreds of Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:reshared chain letters about Hilary Clinton or razor blades in Halloween candy among Gruden's epistles as well.
Just think for a moment about the level of staggering, self-absorbed privilege at work here. Gruden was a famous broadcaster with lucrative endorsement deals during this period of correspondence. He had no affiliation with the Washington Football Team, no reason to offer vulgar, unsolicited opinions in writing. All he had were tens of millions of dollars in earning potential and a public reputation to lose. And while the 2011 strike and 2016 protests were major events that everyone involved in football had vehement opinions about, the only motivation Gruden could possibly have for weighing in on Michael Sam or female referees was vicious downward-punching hate and fear. Gruden's emails, like many a father-in-law's Sunday dinner rants, betray him as a tough-talking coward, a weakling bullying the vulnerable to feel strong.
Gruden lost his job on Monday; he technically "resigned," but you know how such resignations go. There's a lot of lost employment going around the Facebook father-in-law community these days. Like Gruden, most of them can't shut up. They cannot stop bragging about where they were on January 6, what they think of their company's vaccine mandate, or whose lives, in their opinion, matter. Society is stuck with people like Gruden because society nurtured them for generations. But we no longer have to venerate them, respect them, or allow them to hide behind the protections of power. In fact, we can and should strip them of their wealth and fame, even when it's expensive and inconvenient, because it's dangerous to keep people like Gruden in positions of leadership.
Goodbye, Gruden. You'll only be missed as a convenient comedy punching bag. As to the rest of the racist, homophobic, sexist fathers-in-law out there: you are on notice. Because if the NFL won't put up with your shit anymore, no one will.
Let's cleanse our palate with a look at some of the other news from around the NFL on Monday and Tuesday"
Rick Bisaccia Takes Over as Raiders Head Coach: That's just Tom Cable wearing a fake moustache, folks.
Trey Lance Suffered a Sprained Knee in the 49ers' Loss to the Cardinals: The 49ers are discovering that 2021 is just a repeat of 2020 with some glimmers of false hope sprinkled in. The rest of us realized that months ago.
Giants Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney Apologizes for Throwing a Punch at a Cowboys Defender on Sunday: "I have learned that fisticuffs solve nothing except arguments between offensive line coaches," Toney did not say.
A Fan Spread Ashes of a Deceased Family Member at Heinz Field During the Broncos-Steelers Game: Are we 100% certain that Ben Roethlisberger isn't just slowly crumbling?
Ezekiel Elliott Suffered a Minor Injury from Landing on a Hard Pylon Camera on Sunday: FOX responded by assuring the Cowboys that the Poison Dart Stiletto 4K Maximum Def Camera (with Platinum Notched Bayonet Zoom Lens) is perfectly safe. Also, we now know how Tyrod Taylor is going to die.
Urban Meyer Says he Wants the Jaguars to Run for 250 yards and Throw for 250 yards Every Week: Meyer also wants a different NFL head coach to be caught sending abhorrent emails every week so he can look noble and competent by comparison.
Walkthrough Tank Watch: Houston Texans
Every Wednesday, Walkthrough will check in on one of the NFL's worst teams to determine what's going wrong, what (if anything) is going right, and what (if anything) they can do to start heading in the right direction. Somehow, we made it to Week 6 without focusing on the Texans.
The Texans Story So Far: After defeating Urban Meyer's Neglected Children in the season opener, the Texans have alternated games in which they throw scares into potential playoff teams with games in which they curl into a little ball and wait for the hurting to stop.
The Texans lured the Patriots into a slopfest by mixing long drives, turnovers, and a timely flea-flicker in Week 5. But they self-destructed after taking a 22-9 lead, allowing the Patriots to come back for a 24-22 victory that dropped the Texans to 1-4.
What's Going Wrong? You know most of this stuff.
- Owner Cal McNair is the type of person who thinks mixing horse de-wormer with his Scotch can cure male pattern baldness.
- Team Svengali Jack Easterby is the guy who conned your sister-in-law into blowing the family savings on a pyramid scheme to sell CD-ROM audio bibles voiced by Kevin Sorbo.
- General manager Nick Caserio runs the roster and payroll according to the "look busy and do favors for old friends" principle.
- Head coach Nick Culley is the substitute teacher who lets the kids play blackjack if they finish their worksheets early.
- Deshaun Watson is Dr. Manhattan on Mars: most of the world doesn't really want him to return, no matter how many of us really need him.
- The entire depth chart looks like an IDP fantasy league free-agent pool after a 14-team draft.
Despite all of this, the Texans would be 2-3 and may even have tilted the Browns or Panthers games in their favor if Culley and his staff didn't treat every fourth down like the first one they encountered in their lives.
Is Anything Going Right? Defensive coordinator Lovie Smith's beard looks fantastic. The Texans play hard and do not appear to have given up on Culley, his staff, or the situation.
What Needs to be Done? The Texans will remain an irresponsibly run franchise until the day Easterby gets bored and wanders off to found a combination PAC/direct-market pillow company. But lots of NFL franchises throughout history have been run by delusional ninnies, and many of them found ways to not humiliate themselves on a weekly or annual basis. With that in mind, here's what the Texans can do to achieve the baseline level of competence of, say, the Washington Football Team.
- Trade Watson for Anything. ANYTHING. Like, for instance, a conditional second-round pick in 2023 that becomes a first-rounder if he isn't swallowed up by the legal system and/or the commissioner's Go Away I'm Busy list for two solid years. Whatever. Forget the near-mint condition value in the Beckett's guide, Texans: this is a sheriff's auction, not a Sotheby's auction.
- Trade Everyone Else. Laremy Tunsil is playing like he wants out; lots of teams need a left tackle. Whitney Mercilus has served his time in purgatory; send him to a contender who needs an edge rusher. The Texans have 500 veteran running backs on their depth chart; the Ravens, 49ers, and (maybe) Chiefs are desperate for healthy bodies. The Texans should try to load up on mid-round 2022 and 2023 picks by selling off the rights to all the veterans Caserio signed because he
wanted to do their agents favorshoped to keep the team competitive.
- Play Some Rookies. Davis Mills is just about the only rookie receiving regular playing time on the Texans. That's an obvious problem to everyone but the Texans. They need to elevate some guys off the practice squad and pull some youngsters off the waiver wire. Caserio and Culley can sell it to Easterby as a youth movement. If Easterby objects, they can shut him down with Luke 19:14.
- Hire a Fourth-Down Guru. It doesn't have to be an analytics genius. It can just be a veteran coach who has had a good night's sleep and some coffee who doesn't get all flustered because Bill Belichick is on the opposite sideline. The Texans just need someone who can explain to Culley that he should not decline a penalty and THEN punt and warn him about the dangers of turning a fake punt into one of Easterby's improv routines.
So How Bad are the Texans? They're better this year than the Jets and Jaguars. Within the locker room, they may be less dysfunctional than the Jaguars, Raiders, and perhaps the Giants. But their front office structure threatens to cast a shadow across the decades and galaxies,
What's Next? The Texans visit the Colts next week. Carson Wentz is suddenly and temporarily playing well, and he's such an Easterby "culture fit" that he may be auditioning for his next employer.
Walkthrough Prop Watch: Defensive Player of the Year (and more)
Every Wednesday, Walkthrough handicaps the field in an NFL awards race or some other type of futures bet.
Sound the Walkthrough Prop Bet Siren! WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP. Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs is currently +900 to win Defensive Player of the Year. WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP.
Diggs is a nearly perfect DPOY candidate. He already has six interceptions, meaning he's already a lock to be the league leader in that category. (Seven or eight interceptions are generally all it takes to lead the NFL in interceptions these days.) Diggs plays for a high-profile team that is all but guaranteed to reach the playoffs. He comes equipped with a redemption narrative after a miserable rookie season, as well as a famous older brother for further storyline appeal. And while DPOY is typically an edge rusher's award, Stephon Gilmore won it in 2019, so cornerbacks are definitely in play. All that at +900? Gimme Gimme GIMME.
Myles Garrett is the DPOY front runner at +350. Garrett leads the NFL with seven sacks, 4.5 of them against Justin Fields and the Bears. Garrett's an All-Pro, but he'll need more than his customary 12 to 13.5 sacks to wrest the award from Diggs.
Aaron Donald is sitting at +650 by virtue of being Aaron Donald. It's a sucker's bet: the three-time DPOY winner has set his own bar too high, and voters may end up with Rams fatigue if Matthew Stafford remains a strong presence in the MVP vote. Defensive Player of the Year is typically awarded either to someone having a breakout season or a repeat champion, though the voters implicitly cap the repeat winners at around three trophies. Darnold now has three awards, tying him with J.J. Watt, Ray Lewis, and Lawrence Taylor. He'll have to do something unprecedented to win a fourth time.
The rest of the DPOY field lacks excitement. You can get Matt Judon at +3500 if you think he will lead the Patriots back to the playoffs and the credit won't be eaten up by Bill Belichick and Poised Mac Jones. Chandler Jones has cooled to +3000. Haason Reddick is at +5000 for the true Panthers believers left in the audience. Both of you.
Comeback Player of the Year Update: Did you wager on Dak Prescott to win Comeback Player of the Year at +225 back in July when Walkthrough told you to? If not, it's too late: Prescott is now -175 to win the award. Joe Burrow is second at +800, even though many voters may not think of him as making a "comeback" in his second season. Jameis Winston sits at +1400, which isn't an awful play: he's positioned to become the favorite if something unfortunate happens to Prescott.
Defensive Rookie of the Year Update: Since this is turning into the all-Cowboys edition of Prop Watch: Micah Parsons is the favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year +350. Walkthrough understands the reasoning but hates the payout: DROY is a very buzz-oriented award, and Parsons can win by being the famous rookie playing well for the huge-market team enjoying success. But we would need about +500 to bother squeezing this particular orange.
Patrick Surtain II is an awful bet to win DROY at +450: voters are likely to forget the Broncos exist in about three weeks. Jeremiah Owusu-Karomoah is having an outstanding year for the Browns at +750, but he suffered an injury against the Chargers that bears watching and may have trouble drawing attention away from Parsons, the better-known college player on the higher-profile team with (yes) the easier-to-spell name.
Coach of the Year Update: You know which Cowboys personality is not going to win any awards? Mike McCarthy, who is at +1400. The Cowboys could finish 16-1 and my colleagues would vote for Matt Rhule for doing such a fine job getting the Panthers to 9-7-1 while ladling praise on newly hired Raiders head coach Kellen Moore.
Chargers coach Brandon Staley, on the other hand, makes a worthy favorite at +450. Coach of the Year is all about exceeding expectations and adding a degree of novelty; Staley's Chargers check both boxes. Kliff Kingsbury at +850 is a more appealing play than Staley as injuries turn the NFC West into a two-team race. Kingsbury's offensive scheme is flashier than the Chargers' system, which could sway some voters if both teams finish near the top of the playoff seedings.
Sean McVay and Sean McDermott are splitting the Sean vote at +1100. McDermott may have missed his chance last year; success is now expected of him. McVay won in 2017, and two-time winners are relatively rare. Also, no one actually bets on Coach of the Year, in part because it's like the Best New Artist Grammy, and also because normal people bet on the team if they think the coach is great.
Urban Meyer sits at +10000, tied with Mike Tomlin of all people.
Jon Gruden sat at +2200 as of Monday afternoon. If you bet on him, you deserve to lose money.