When “cancel culture” and “accountability” collide

On Monday, the sports world stopped and watched as Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden resigned after only three and a half years into his 10-year contract in his second stint with the team.

And the reasons why were unexpected, to say the least.

Originally, an investigation into the workplace of the Washington Football Team led to the uncovering of emails, spanning from 2011-2018 that were sent from Gruden to Bruce Allen, and to say the least, the emails were not pleasant. Not in the slightest.

“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” Gruden said on Twitter in a statement issued by the team. “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

The emails allegedly referred to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as a “faggot”, and saying Goodell was a “clueless anti football pussy”. He also said Goodell shouldn’t have pressured the Rams to draft “queers”, referring to Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted in NFL history. Gruden also allegedly called then United States Vice President, and current President Joe Biden a “nervous clueless pussy”.[33] Gruden also was receiving emails from Allen that contained photos of Washington’s cheerleaders who were forced to pose topless by the team during a photoshoot in Costa Rica.[34] Gruden resigned on October 11, 2021 after details of the emails were released by The New York Times.[35]

He also denounced the emergence of women as referees, and believed players protesting the National Anthem (specifically Eric Reid) “be fired”.

Neither Gruden, Allen, the NFL, or the Raiders responding to requests for comment to the New York Times.

This brings up the biggest question, however: is essentially forcing Gruden to resign holding someone to accountability, or is it just “cancel culture” at its finest?

Or… could it be both?

First, let’s look at what “cancel culture” is. In popular culture, “cancel culture” is “a modern form of ostracism or discrimination in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person.”

Whenever an instance of people on social media digging up past emails, videos, audio, or any other form of expression from a specific person, it’s considered a part of “cancel culture”. At the same time, others feel it is the right thing to do, as it holds those who have said controversial and derogatory things accountable for their actions and words.

In this writer’s personal opinion, it is both, each to an extent. While everyone should be held accountable for their mistakes, waiting nearly a decade (sometimes longer) to bring light to these situations is also setting a precedent of hiding things away until the “right time”, whenever that may be. Gruden’s situation is hardly the first, and I seriously doubt it will be the last.


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