Peniel E. Joseph is the Barbara Jordan Chair in ethics and political values and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is also a professor of history. He is the author of "Stokely: A Life" and "The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr." The views expressed here are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
A Wall Street Journal report that longtime NFL head football coach Jon Gruden used racist language to characterize the Black head of the NFL players union in an email sent in 2011 demonstrates the distance between the league's efforts to embrace anti-racism and a far more disturbing reality. Gruden resigned Monday as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after further reports emerged from the New York Times about his use of homophobic and misogynistic language in emails while he worked as an ESPN analyst. He apologized in a statement issued by the Raiders: "I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I'm sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone."
On Friday, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said: "The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL's values. We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else."