White America Gave a “Hall Pass” to Jon Gruden

Lafe Tolliver

By Lafe Tolliver, Esq
Guest Column

Remember in high school when you had to leave your class and go to another room or leave the building or even go to the principal’s office, that you had to get a “hall pass” so that when you ran into the hall monitor kid sitting at a desk in the hallway, you could show the monitor your pass and get on with your business or appointed destination?

And, if you did not have a hall pass, the hall monitor was “authorized” by the school principal to stop you and if you could not show the proper credentials, the principal or a teacher would come out and ask you what the commotion is about.

But you know and I know that some kids were simply “special.” They did not need a hall pass to keep on doing what they were doing. They were exempt from the monitor’s scrutiny and he or she did not call them out, because they were “special.”

They might have been the school’s quarterback or the kid everybody feared who, if you crossed him, you would see him in the parking lot waiting for you with a mean look…and you knew what that could mean.

Or, that person might have been the cute girl who winked at you and that wink told you, “If you let me pass, we could be friends.” And, in your awkward stage of life, getting a wink from a knockout like Lakesha was worth walking barefoot on hot glass shards!

Well, if you have been following the news lately about the famed NFL football coach, Jon Gruden, he was fired/resigned from the head coach job of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Jon Gruden was a famed and fabled coach whose aura and presence lit up a room and his advice to young wannabee ballers was invaluable. Jon ruled the roost. His touch was golden. He strutted when others simply walked. He sparkled when others simply smiled. He laughed when others just giggled.

Jon Gruden was the epitome of football ruggedness and mental acuity. He was the total package. He was the kind of guy who if he went out for a meal and forget his wallet, the restaurant owner would gladly wait for payment or gladly give him a mulligan for the meal because, Jon ate at his place!

Jon was used to the glad hand treatment. He called and you answered. He speculated and you took it to the football bank. He could make careers happen for players and his football advice was greedily gobbled up by starry eyed recruits.

As they would say, “Jon had it goin’ on!”

But…something happened. Somebody came across some old emails  in which Jon had made crude, ugly and demeaning comments about Black people, women referees and gay people; and they were neither football funny nor of noble character.

Jon must have missed a payment on his account as a goodie two shoes type of guy and the football gods, envious and vindictive as they are wont to be, rose as one and decided to toss Jon out of their favorite club.

Word came out that Jon had a dark side to him. That dark and brooding side was composed of demons that told Jon to mock Black people and to make fun of the football commissioner, Roger Goodall, and to castigate women referees and to cast aspersions on so many “others” that when the record was tallied up, Jon was in hock to the football gods.

He was in hock to a fiendish spirit that he harbored which belied his true intents (or so he now says).

Jon was in acute damage control and with his feverish apologies on national media outlets, Jon was seeing the football gods now mock him as he so easily, readily and repeatedly mocked others.

Jon saw the ominous clouds approaching his fair ship and he could not have the sails catch the wind and thus sail away from the pending storm.

No, my friend Jon Gruden suddenly lost his hall pass. Jon could not get by on the strength of his gregarious personality, wit and charm.

The football gods were fickle and were demanding an accounting from Jon and Jon could not pay their due and owing tab. His bill, the bill that he ran up for years and years and fooled others into thinking he was all that and a bag of chips, was past due and owing.

The new Jon, this Jon was the one we saw standing before the unrelenting cameras mercilessly jabbing at his every word when he tried to utter a strange language of contrition and sorrow.

A language that he was not used to speaking and was foreign to his lips but those lips that were not as big as those puffy Michelin tires as he racially ascribed to a Black football executive.

Initially, some of Jon’s past Black co-workers, not knowing yet the full venom that Jon released besides the “big lips” issue, stood by him and tried to make lame defenses for him, but, alas, there was no salvation for Jon.

For years, Jon Gruden had a hall pass from America and he used it like a thief using a free ATM. Life was good for Jon. Real good!

But Jon did not know that at some time in your life, the hall pass scheme can lose it luster and power; and then you must turn around and go to the principal’s office and face the music.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Contact Lafe Tolliver at tolliver@juno.com