Summoned to the league office in 2011 over criticism of officiating, Jon Gruden refused to go

The recent ESPN article regarding the connection between the Jon Gruden emails and Daniel Snyder’s essentially forced sale of the Commanders delved into the animosity between Gruden and the league office. It started during his first stint with the Raiders, and it grew over the years.

The fact that he worked directly for the late Al Davis didn’t help matters. Davis had long been an irritant to the league, suing his partners for antitrust and believing there was a persistent bias against the Silver and Black. The ESPN article mentions, for example, that former Commissioner Pete Rozelle personally kiboshed a trade for John Elway in 1983, when the Colts eventually shipped his rights to Denver.

Gruden’s beliefs regarding an anti-Raiders bias were later justified (in his opinion) by the Tuck Rule game of January 2002, when a little-known rule snatched defeat from the jaws of postseason victory against the Patriots. Then, after Gruden was traded to the Buccaneers, eventually fired by Tampa Bay, and hired by ESPN’s Monday Night Football, the irascible Gruden had a bully pulpit from which to spew any and all venom he chose.

I distinctly recall Gruden being a disappointment as a broadcaster. He kept his “Chucky” demeanor in check as he strategically refrained from speaking his mind about bad play, bad coaching, bad anything, given that he intended to take a coaching job in the future, at some point. A track record of criticizing others could pre-emptively burn one of the bridges back to a sideline.

So Gruden pointed his poisonous tongue at 345 Park Avenue. As explained in the ESPN article, Gruden “was in an especially bad headspace” during the 2011 season, because he was “furious over the owners’ lockout that offseason and that clubs had voted in 2009 to give teams the option to eliminate pension plans for assistant coaches and other employees.”

Per ESPN, Gruden’s frustration “came to a boil” in December 2011. Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton applied a helmet-to-helmet hit to…


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