Lincicome: It's time for everyone to refresh their core values

  • Former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigned after inappropriate emails were discovered.

    Former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigned after inappropriate emails were discovered. Associated Press

Updated 10/15/2021 2:00 PM

Before the world Woke or before Cancel became a Culture, the Bears might have taken some credit for the fate of former famous coach Jon Gruden, having beaten his team, the point spread and the expectations of nearly everyone.

Ah, but no. The Bears are like one of those supporting players in a whodunit who is of interest only because they were last to see the victim alive.


Suggestions have been made that the Bears won only because the Raiders were distracted by the Gruden stuff, not then as widespread as it has become. The Raider players couldn't cope with a rookie quarterback and two little known running backs because they were worried about their coach.

Bunk. There will not be an asterisk beside the fifth game of the year, * Won on account of sympathetic preoccupation. No, the Bears won and Gruden is now the poster lout for all things the NFL refuses to think about itself.

So humiliated are the Tampa Bay Bucs, a team coached by Gruden to its first Super Bowl victory, that the Bucs removed Gruden from their Ring of Honor, insisting that he does not represent Tampa Bay's "core values."

Phew. Thank goodness the Bears will not have to look up and seen Gruden's name when they visit in a week or so. They, and others, may now play in an arena uncontaminated by homage to a man who used language any one of them might use without giving it another thought, if any at all.

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I have heard much of the Gruden vocabulary -- well, all of it actually -- from the time I was a student journalist at Ohio State covering Woody Hayes practices, through pro locker rooms and clubhouses and most memorably as a basic training recruit when Sgt. Lewis would get nose to nose and call me -- not just me, all of us -- names that demeaned every community that now identifies itself with capital letter initials.

The good sergeant was making us all that we could be, building men, just the way coaches do in every sport at every level. Some wear camo and fatigues just so we don't forget the connection between brutality and necessity.

We had a presidential candidate who dismissed a much worse vulgarity than anything from Gruden by calling it "locker room talk." As I recall he was elected. He later called players who knelt during the anthem, S.O.B.s, and was cheered.

Colin Kaepernick, the most prominent kneeler, protesting out of conscience against police brutality, has sacrificed a career for his integrity, and the "core value" he represented is now decaled on the back of players helmets and painted in NFL end zones.


End Racism. It Takes All of Us. The NFL is nothing if not adaptable.

The Bears happened to win a football game in these times when embarrassing a better coach with a defeat on the field gives way to ducking safely out of the way and showing neither sympathy nor awareness of unacceptable social insensitivity.

He said what? When? About whom? A football coach being insulting, unkind and uncaring? Shocked! The NFL is shocked at such behavior.

Gruden brought this on himself, of course, by thoughtlessly putting his world view into emails where it could be revealed a decade later as part of a look at another NFL team's bad behavior. Credit to the immortal digital world where the past lurks in ambush, righting wrongs and pointing fingers.

We are asked to believe football is better today than it was yesterday now that so despicable a figure as Gruden is gone, taking his sins, commonly grouped as "racist, homophobic and misogynistic," with him.

Two chances of that happening. Fat and none.

An example here from experience, not that every professional athlete I ever covered was like the famous quarterback whose last words to me were, "Out of my way, you bleeping baguette."

The quote is fig leafed, of course. Something is lost in the camouflage, though the disguised part of the sentence provides an easy riddle to solve, being alliterative, succinct and pejorative, making use of the sixth letter of the alphabet.

This is the same term Ozzie Guillen would call a Chicago columnist when he was manager of the White Sox and had to undergo sensitivity training; Ozzie, not the columnist, though both could have used it.

Core values. The NFL should give that more thought. The rest of us, too.

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