Editorial: Sports Media Does Not Cover Systemic Issues

Rick Scuteri | PA

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden leaves after speaking at a press conference following an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears in Las Vegas on Sunday, October 10, 2021. archive photo. The Northern Star editorial board believe his former employer, ESPN, repeatedly failed to acknowledge the seriousness of his hate speech and was too quick to discuss it.

The news broke in the middle of Monday Night Football on October 11. Jon Gruden had resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after the The New York Times published a report hours prior, detailing Gruden’s racist, sexist, homophobic and toxic emails between himself and football executives while Gruden was a commentator for ESPN.

The mood of the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts has already been changed, not just by the news, but by the fact that it was Gruden’s original employer who reported it. ESPN announcer Louis Riddick took the breath away from any football fan hurt by Gruden’s comments.

“I have a stomach ache,” Riddick said after Gruden’s statement was read on air. “I feel bad for the players. Think about (Raiders quarterback) Derek Carr and all the blood and sweat and tears he’s shed this season, and it’s awful. It’s awful.

It took ESPN less than 24 hours to retreat to what they know, putting the thoughts of black, gay and female fans on the backburner to focus on how the Raiders will maintain their sixth seed in the AFC. . On a day that should have been devoted to tough discussions about culture at NFL team offices, ESPN pivoted to Carr and any other possible topic to avoid touching on the meaning of emails from Gruden in a larger context.

The media has failed to have an honest conversation about systemic racism, sexism and homophobia in football.

Among 650,000 emails, originally stemming from an investigation into sexual misconduct with the Washington football team, the Associated Press reported on Friday that no other team or staff were complacent in instances of xenophobic language at the level of what Gruden used. The AP report is based on an unnamed NFL source as the league has yet to release the emails publicly.

The anonymous NFL source may be right that there’s nothing else to investigate. It can also be an NFL disguise coat that is further dragged into the shame currently occupied only by Gruden. The Northern Star Editorial Board believes that the role of the sports media for the days and weeks to come is to get the NFL to publish these emails, investigate itself and report its findings.

Former NFL executive and ESPN contributor Mark Tannenbaum said Raiders owner Mark Davis should tell his team to consider Gruden’s comments “old history.”

In fact, Raiders defensive lineman Carl Nassib, who became the NFL’s first openly gay active player this summer, requested and was granted a day off Wednesday to process everything, according to information from the NFL Network on October 13.

The media once let football fans down. He can’t afford to start over.