We’ve seen the Las Vegas Raiders deal with the resignation of head coach Jon Gruden this week, in the fallout of the leaked emails in which he made racist, homophobic, and misogynistic comments about people around the league, and made some pretty flippant comments about player safety. Tight end Darren Waller has been one of the great success stories of the Gruden tenure in Oakland/Las Vegas.
Waller was originally drafted by the Baltimore Ravens out of Georgia Tech in 2015. He dealt with substance abuse issues throughout his first few years in the league, eventually entering a rehab facility, and serving a year-long suspension from the NFL. He’s been upfront about his issues, and has really turned it around in recent years, becoming a true star for the Raiders in the last few years.
It makes sense that he has pretty complicated feelings about the Gruden situation. Gruden gave him a chance after he was out of football for almost two years, in 2018. At the same time, the things he said behind the backs of others were reprehensible.
“I want to offer somebody grace and allow them to learn from what they may have done and that’s what I’m trying to do right now for coach,” Waller said, via Jesse Merrick of KSNV News 3 Las Vegas. He called Gruden’s emails “inexcusable.”
#Raiders TE Darren Waller
"I want to offer somebody grace and allow them to learn from what they may have done and that's what I'm trying to do right now for coach"
Said he understands what he did is inexcusable but wonders where we draw the line in trying to help people too
— Jesse Merrick (@JesseNews3LV) October 13, 2021
He’s not the only Raiders star with complicated feelings this week. Derek Carr said that he “loves the man,” but “hates the sin,” when asked about his now-former coach.
"I love the man. I hate the sin…You hate the action. But you love the person. And I love the person." — Derek Carr on Jon Gruden.
— Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) October 13, 2021
Years ago, Jon Gruden sent an email accusing the NFL of pushing then-St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher of drafting Michael Sam, the first openly-gay draft eligible player, using a homophobic slur in the process.
Just this year, Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as the first openly gay active NFL player, with support from Gruden. He took a personal day from the team, and was “processing things,” general manager Mike Mayock told the media.
Rich Bisaccia will serve as the Raiders’ interim head coach this year.