Jon Gruden
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

From 2018 to 2021, Jon Gruden served as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, but the longtime coach stepped down after racist, misogynistic, and homophobic slurs from his private emails surfaced during an NFL investigation into the Washington Commanders.

Gruden has since worked with the New Orleans Saints as a consultant in 2023, but now he’s in a new role outside of the NFL again, where he’s serving as an advisor to the Milano Seamen in the European League of Football.

But that’s not why we’re discussing Gruden today. He’s back in the news due to the recent discovery of another controversial incident, back when he was an NFL head coach.

The incident in question arose when Robert, the father of current Miami Dolphins safety Jevon Holland, appeared on the DolphinsTalk podcast. What does Holland have to do with Gruden?

Well, back when Holland was a highly-touted defensive back prospect coming out of Oregon, Gruden’s Raiders had a need for a playmaking safety, and the former Ducks star was one of the prospects his team was monitoring closely. But it was also during the COVID-19 hysteria, so the Raiders had nothing but time to discover as much as they possibly could about Holland.

During his time in college, Holland had become a vocal advocate for change within his community, and this apparently drew the ire of some talent evaluators who were scouting him. Gruden appeared to be one of them.

Yet, Gruden was infatuated enough with Holland that the Raiders apparently called him every day for a week until the coach had a very strange encounter with the young safety prospect.

“Jon Gruden asked Jevon, ‘Hey, are you going to change your name to Malcolm X when you get into the league?’ And i jumped up, and then Jevon put his hand up and said, ‘No, I got this, Dad. And, listen, I use my platform to speak for those people who can’t speak, and I’m only speaking for good. And if I’m not the kind of guy who you perceive as speaking for good or doing something wrong, maybe I shouldn’t be part of your organization.’ And he hung up.”

Robert Holland on Jevon Holland’s encounter with Jon Gruden

Good on Jevon to stand up for himself when faced with a ridiculous question by his potential employer.

The rest, as they say, is history. The first round came and went, and the Raiders selected first-round bust Alex Leatherwood with the 17th overall pick. Holland was selected by the Dolphins with the 36th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s since started 42 of the 45 games he’s appeared in.

Meanwhile, Leatherwood started all 17 games during his rookie season and has just 21 appearances in his career. Now 25, Leatherwood is trying to crack the Los Angeles Chargers’ final roster.

The Raiders did still take a safety, showing their interest in improving their secondary was legitimate. Tre’Von Moehrig, who was selected 43rd, just seven picks after Holland, has started 47 of the 49 games he’s appeared in. He’s entering the final year of his rookie contract with the Raiders.

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