Saturday Night Live opened with a riff on Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s resignation following the disclosure of homophobic, misogynistic and racist emails, using the incident to spotlight how the NFL is found wanting when it comes to its diversity record.
Gruden stepped down as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders earlier this week after The New York Times published stories about the contents of the emails.
Introducing Gruden in the sketch was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, played by Colin Jost. “I think we can all agree that the emails sent by Jon Gruden were horrifying and deeply offensive, especially to me,” Goodell said. “I was referred to as the F word. The P word. The C word. The R word. The F-ing R word. And the F-ing R word P-word. And I was once weirdly called a DILF. That was kind of sweet. But I assure you. All 32 teams in our league understand that diversity is our strength. And I know that our Black coaches would agree. Both of them.”
“Now Coach Gruden has asked to say a few words. I said, ‘Bad idea. But he got on his knees and begged, and you know how much I hate seeing someone kneel.”
Playing Gruden was new cast member James Austin Johnson, who pleaded, “I hope you won’t judge me on the one email I sent 10 years ago, or the 20 emails I sent last Tuesday.”
Then he insisted that he was not a racist. “I promise I don’t have a racist bone in my body. When I called an African American players darker than a night with no stars, that wasn’t racial. I was referring to his sense of humor, which is extremely dark and edgy. Like that show Louie on FX. Hey, when’s the next season coming out?”
Gruden then tried to blame the repeated homophobic slurs on his email auto correct. “I am a bit of a naval buff, and I often send my friends emails about frigates, which are warships. I’ll say, ‘Look at that flaming frigate.’ That’s when a warship is on fire. Or ‘That dumbass frigate can ‘S’ my ‘D.’ That is about a warship performing oral sex on another warship. You get it. My point is I never meant to hurt anyone. I meant to hurt them secretly and behind their backs.”
He then introduced Raiders owner Mark Davis (Alex Moffat), whose bowl haircut, he said, has his players calling him “the botched circumcision.”
“What Coach Gruden did was disgraceful. We need to do better. We need to do, as I always tell my barber, aim higher,” he said.
The rest of the sketched mocked the troubles the Raiders have in filling roles with figures who won’t traffic in stereotypes and tropes. The Raiders coaching duties eventually land with the equipment manager, who declares, “Las Vegas will never tolerate misogyny of any kind. Never has. Never will.”
But then he announced that even he has to resign as reporters look through his past. “I never should have dressed up as Jackie Chan for Halloween, but 2019 was a different era.”
Later, Chris Redd appeared as Colin Kaepernick, who helped lead protests of racial injustice and police brutality by kneeling during the National Anthem. “Wow, so much stuff coming out about the NFL is maybe racist,” he said. In a sarcastic tone, Kaepernick added, “Huh. I wonder if anyone tried to warn people about this before. I’m scratching my head trying to remember who said that. Scratch. Scratch. It’s almost like that is the reason they banned me from the league.”
Then Davis reappeared and said, “I don’t know. Maybe it is just your weird haircut.”
Davis then announced a “solution that makes everyone happy. Someone even Twitter can get behind. Introducing our new head coach LeVar Burton…”
Burton, apparently passed over to serve as permanent host of Jeopardy, appeared via Kenan Thompson. He said, “All right. Suck on that, Mayim Bialik!”
Watch the entire cold open above.