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Gruesome Gruden NFL Scandal Hits Close to Cowboys Home

Mavs' blowouts, baseball's cheaters and Trevon Diggs' connection to a funeral parlor, all in our weekly DFW sports notebook

 WHITT’S END: 10.15.21

Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End …

*It’s no secret that the NFL has a dirty little secret. Imagine your co-worker being publicly exposed as a misogynistic, homophobic racist, but when asked about him your response was … “I don’t have anything I would want to express there one way or the other.”

That’s how Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones reacted to news of Las Vegas Raiders’ coach Jon Gruden resigning in the wake of 2011 emails that revealed him as someone who thinks it’s okay to poke fun at black men’s appearance, block admittance into the NFL for women and gays, and casually use words like “p*ssy” and “f*ggot” to describe the company’s boss. 

Instead of “Yikes, get that creep outta here!” – which is what you or I would say – Jones basically went with “no comment.” 

Why? Hmm. I think we know. 

From Donald Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers, to the Tennessee Titans’ Jerry Richardson, to our own Dallas Stars’ coach Jim Montgomery and his over-indulgences, to Mark Cuban and the dysfunctional, toxic workplace of the Dallas Mavericks, sports owners/management are by and large proprietors and protectors of a bad ol’ boys fraternity that has its each other’s back even when they know the truth should be out front. We’ve learned (are learning) that being rich doesn’t mean being decent. If made public, what would the more than 650,000 emails supposedly being investigated by the NFL reveal about Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder? Or about other members of management, owners or, potentially, even Jones? 

“I don’t have anything I would want to express there one way or the other”, indeed.

By the way, remember all those rumors over the years connecting Gruden to the Cowboys? You know, the "He's looking at houses in Plano'' stories?

We'll never know the truth. But we will know we're glad it didn't happen.

*Atta boy, ESPN. On your NFL shows you’ve employed both Gruden and Rush Limbaugh. What, David Duke was busy?

*Trevon Diggs tied a mortician’s assistant. Yep, the Cowboys’ cornerback’s interception in the season’s first five games tied the franchise record set in 1961 by Don Bishop, who in the offseason worked at a funeral parlor. In an unrelated story, Diggs last week dealt with a bout of pink eye. ... and now he's working through an ankle issue to get ready for New England. Full story here.)

*Did I read that right … the Mavs beat the Hornets in a preseason game by 68 points?! Sixty eight? Same team that last December led the Clippers at halftime by 50. Hey, Dallas is undefeated (3-0) under coach Jason Kidd. We’ll actually be impressed if we can still say that next weekend after the regular-season’s tough, first road trip to Atlanta and Toronto.

*How do Houston sports fans genuinely – with a clear conscience – root for the Astros? Jose Altuve infamously wore a buzzer to alert him what pitch was coming. The team orchestrated a sophisticated sign-stealing outfit implementing multiple players, coaches and trash cans. They were found guilty. Admitted guilt! Fined. Punished. A manager and general manager were fired. But no player involved was disciplined. Now the same core group that stole the 2017 World Series is playing the Red Sox in the ALCS. Honestly, if the Cowboys won a Super Bowl by illegally filming an opponent’s practice or purposefully deflating footballs – by clear-cut cheating – would you celebrate them as champions? Me neither. Too slimy.

*Advice: Walk the same way you drive. I was strolling down a hall this week and started to turn right down an intersecting hall when – boom! – I had a head-on collision with a man. He was essentially making a left turn, in my lane. 

“Excuse you!” I said. 

To which he responded, “Dude, I was here first!” 

I just hung my head and meandered on, convinced more than ever that America is swirling the bowl toward total flushdom

If you’re making a left turn – on foot or behind the wheel – you don’t get to hug the left wall just because it’s a shorter distance and/or you’re as lazy as a sack of socks. 

Unless you’re reading this in jolly ol’ England, stay to the right. Thank you in advance for being decent.

*Tyron Trouble? Just when the Cowboys' offensive line is humming along, ominous news from Tyron Smith's neck. The same problem that kept him off the field in 2020 is requiring an MRI this week. Uh-oh. ... Unless ... Fish has the scoop here.

*Shocking how people – including his former co-workers and bosses at ESPN – are pretending to be shocked by Gruden. Truth is there are empowered white men everywhere – some even coaches – convinced they’re superior to those born black, brown, female and gay. I’ve known plenty like Gruden. I call them ex-acquaintances.

*Cuban, who hired CEO Cynthia Marshall in 2018 and seems to have cleaned up the Mavs, nailed Gruden’s guilt years ago. “When you hit send on a tweet or text, you lose ownership of it. But you’ll never lose responsibility for it.” 

Amen. 

That said, Gruden’s problem wasn’t sending emails. Gruden’s problem was being a scumbag.

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*Remember when Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott has the fumble yips? Ssssshh, don’t jinx it.

*Nauseating how ESPN all week has been analyzing how the Raiders are handling the Gruden imbroglio. The emails, remember, were sent in 2011 – when Gruden was ESPN’s face of Monday Night Football. The network’s analysis should be conducted looking in a mirror.

*Last chance this weekend to attend this year’s State Fair of Texas. The event has come a long way. Now: Raises millions for DFW charities. Then: In 1923 the fair promoted a “Ku Klux Klan Day” that attracted 160,000 to the grounds. In the 1960s it displaced hundreds of homes owned by minorities in the name of imminent domain. Dark history, replaced by a bright present.

*Still without suspended starting right tackle La’el Collins and injured starting receiver Michael Gallup, the Cowboys are on pace to be the highest-scoring team in franchise history. 34 points per game will win you more than you lose.

*Hot.

*Not.

*Dirk Nowitzki will be an NBA official 75th anniversary ambassador. Which means he’ll be among the league’s 75 greatest players. Which, he’d better be. Right?

*Dallas Stars began their 2022 season Thursday night. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are still on the roster, Rick Bowness is their head coach and last year they missed the playoffs just months after making it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Thus ends my Stars preview. Bon Appetit.

*In the U.S. every year, more than 500,000 people go missing. So why are we singularly fixated on the case of Gabby Petito? Ohhhh, right. Pretty and white. Got it.

*Lots of furrowed brows and gnashing of teeth of who should be the Texas Longhorns quarterback and what should be the workload of running back Bijan Robinson. But, um, isn’t that effort misguided? 

Watched Texas-OU last weekend and saw the burnt orange surrender 55 points. That, on the heels of last year’s coughing up 53 to the Sooners. That’s 108 points to your most hated rival in two seasons. 

Moral to the story: Focus your attention on how to upgrade the defense, specifically the pass rush. 

How far is Texas from being an elite team? The Longhorns have given up 20 touchdowns; No. 1 Georgia has allowed only three.

*The Cowboys haven’t beat Bill Belichick in 30 years. Good luck Sunday in New England.

*Organic, confusing changes in sports that happened right in front of our eyes: NFL punt returners fielding the ball inside the 10, sometimes at the 5 … NBA players rolling the ball into the frontcourt … Baseball pitchers no longer throwing a pitch-out to combat stolen-base attempts …

*We’re supposed to be surprised that the Nets’ Kyrie Irving is still “undecided” about taking the COVID vaccine? Same dude that is still “undecided” about the Earth being round.

*At the NFL Scouting Combine each year, potential employees are thoroughly and invasively examined. Physical measurables. Psychological intangibles. Wonderlic tests. Family trees scoured. Now, if only the league would conduct similar due diligence on its coaches … or owners.

*Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special “Closer” is belly-laughing and thought-provoking, but nothing close to offensive. Unless, that is, you push the play button intent on being offended.

*Nightmarish 2021 for ESPN. First the network was duped by the fake high school, Bishop Sycamore, and now it comes to light that its 2011 face-of-the-franchise was a despicable human being. Sorta related, the network’s MNF pregame show has deteriorated into something wholly unwatchable. 

Between Randy Moss yelling at us for no apparent reason, the incessant fake, forced laughter and the “C’mon man!” simpleton trope, the NFL’s premier, prime-time game has devolved into a show catered to those who have apparently never watched a game.

*Favorite all-time TV character is Seinfeld’s “Cosmo Kramer.” Gaining ground quickly is What We Do in the Shadows’ “Laszlo Cravensworth”. You don’t have to believe in vampires to believe he’s hilarious.

*Travel with someone three days a week for seven years and surely you know them. Right? Not according to ESPN’s Mike Tirico who, despite essentially being married to Gruden, says “I never experienced or saw anything that would say Jon was racist in any way.”

*Cowboys’ exec Stephen Jones says they won’t get injured defensive linemen Neville Gallimore and DeMarcus Lawrence back for another month. Difficult to believe the Cowboys are 4-1 without a major contribution from Lawrence.

*This Weekend? Friday let’s brave this cold front for golf and then take in some high-school football, Johnson County style. Saturday let’s play some tennis. Sunday is for Cowboys-Patriots. As always, don’t be a stranger.