The Las Vegas Raiders started the post-Jon Gruden era with a win, but what about the team’s standing in the community?
The Raiders beat the Broncos 34-24 on Sunday without Gruden on the sidelines, following the head coach’s forced resignation a week ago.
Gruden’s homophobic, misogynistic, and racist emails cost him his job and run counter to the Raiders’ and NFL’s commitment to a more diverse fan base. Today the Raiders need to navigate a scandal being whipped up by a social media whirlwind that reaches casual and rabid fans alike.
“The kinds of comments that have gotten out through the media are then amplified into a whole other realm,” said UNLV Professor Nancy Lough, an expert in sports marketing. “And that makes it really, really challenging from a branding standpoint,”
She told State of Nevada that “for one of the first times ever in the history of marketing, we’re having that direct response come right back to the teams.”
Lough, who consults with the Raiders on how to bring more diversity into the NFL coaching ranks, said “this is an opportunity to educate internally and externally.”
“The NFL has worked really hard to create a more diverse fan base to embrace women to embrace people of all races and ethnicities,” she said. “And once you’ve done that, you can’t then turn around and say, ‘Oh, gosh, we don’t really care about you.’”
The head of one of Nevada’s largest equality groups said the first step to healing is understanding how much Gruden’s words hurt.
“We have folks out there who mean us harm,” said John Waldron, CEO of The Center in Las Vegas, “and anytime that they can get a leader who supports their point of view and uses provocative language that inspires perhaps violence towards us, then they’re going to gravitate towards that.”
Waldron said the episode can be a catalyst for “real change,” but the decision is up to the Raiders.
“We want to hear that the team is going to make the effort to reach out to our community,” he said. “One of my favorite quotes is you can’t always see the picture when you’re stuck in the frame, and that means that you need outside voices, you need people to come in and help.”
The team made a statement of its own in Sunday’s road victory over Denver, giving the team its fourth win against two losses.
“The Raiders six games into the season are capable of not only holding their own against some good teams in this league, but beating them,” said Mitch Moss, a host for the Vegas Stats & Information Network.
Moss said he’s not looking ahead to the Super Bowl, but the Raiders are “potentially a season-long playoff contender, for sure.”
He also said the off-field turmoil the Raiders are now facing does not necessarily mean players will be looking for the exits after the season.
“Maybe the players would have been more willing to leave at the end of the year because they kind of knew behind the scenes what kind of a coach or a human Jon Gruden kind of is,” Moss said.
Mitch Moss, host, Vegas Stats & Information Network; John Waldron, CEO, The Center; Nancy Lough, UNLV professor, co-head of intercollegiate and professional sports management program
Original Story here: https://knpr.org/knpr/2021-10/raiders-win-team-begins-move-jon-gruden