Quarterback Brad Johnson (14) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers talks to his head coach Jon Gruden during the game against the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 28, 2003, at The Coliseum in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Buccaneers, 33-13. Quarterback Shaun King (10) is at left. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
“The first email I saw was the one directed at (NFLPA executive director) DeMaurice Smith. I was shocked by it, actually, because it was so distasteful and so unnecessary. It illuminates that sometimes you think you know someone, and maybe you don’t. You just know what their presentation to you is. It was disappointing,” King said.
King told the website he knew Gruden was finished once The New York Times published the other emails, which showed homophobic and misogynistic comments and other vulgar remarks about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“What has the NFL been pushing from a narrative standpoint? Upward mobility and equality for women. You see women being hired within a lot of organizations in roles that traditionally were only for men. And inclusivity, whether it be sexual, religion, right to protest. When those emails came out, I knew the end was near. You can’t defend that verbiage,” King told Compare.bet.
Quarterback Shaun King (10) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers talks to head coach Jon Gruden during the game against the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 28, 2003, at The Coliseum in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
“A championship football team is built on accountability, discipline and respect. The fact that they have a gay player, and then it comes out what he said about the kid from Missouri that was drafted (Michael Sam). It’s impossible now to go to (Carl Nassib) and explain that.”
The former quarterback said he never had any negative interactions with Gruden but the emails show someone different than the person he knew.
“He just has to look inside, because when you write something like that and send it, you mean it. If you’re joking with your boys, hydrating and having a couple cocktails, somebody might say something slick. But when you sit down and form sentences… it’s hard to turn around and say you didn’t mean anything by it. In my personal interactions with Jon Gruden, I never viewed him as racist, but those emails depict a different person,” he added.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden directs the North team at the 2007 Under Armour Senior Bowl in Mobile Jan. 27. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images) (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
King was a backup quarterback for the Buccaneers in 2002 when Brad Johnson and the stellar Tampa Bay defense led the team to a Super Bowl win. He would play four games for the Arizona Cardinals in 2004 before jumping from team to team. He would never see another down after the 2004 season.
The former second-round pick would play in the Arena Football League and the Canadian Football League before going into coaching.