Buccaneers Remove Jon Gruden From Ring of Honor, Leave Warren Sapp

  • The Bucs are removing Jon Gruden from their Ring of Honor over offensive emails.
  • Warren Sapp was convicted of domestic battery in 2010 and is still in the Ring of Honor.
  • Other players with off-field transgressions also remain on the active roster.

On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that former head coach Jon Gruden, who led the team to a Super Bowl in 2003, would be removed from the team’s Ring of Honor.

The Buccaneers’ decision came after Gruden resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders following the release of years-old emails in which Gruden used racist, homophobic, and misogynistic language.

“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have advocated for purposeful change in the areas of race relations, gender equality, diversity, and inclusion for many years,” the Buccaneers statement read. “While we acknowledge Jon Gruden’s contributions on the field, his actions go against our core values as an organization. Therefore, he will no longer continue to be a member of the Buccaneers Ring of Honor.”

It is easy to see the reasoning for the decision. The Buccaneers did not want it to look like they were celebrating their former coach after seeing the language he used to refer to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL draftee Michael Sam, and others.

However, the move also raises questions about one name that remains in the Ring of Honor and other players still on the Buccaneers’ active roster.

The Bucs are still honoring Warren Sapp

Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp played for nine seasons with the Buccaneers, winning a Super Bowl alongside Gruden in 2003, and remains in the team’s Ring of Honor.

In 2015, Sapp was convicted of domestic battery against a former girlfriend. Sapp was accused of knocking the woman down and stepping on her face. 

At the time, that was just Sapp’s latest run-in with police. 

In February of 2010, after his playing days were over, Sapp was arrested and charged with one count of misdemeanor domestic battery in Florida. The charges were later dropped. Then in February of 2015, Sapp was arrested and charged with soliciting prostitution and two counts of assault. The NFL Network fired Sapp after the incident. Sapp was found guilty of two of the charges. They were later dismissed as a part of a plea deal, in which Sapp completed diversion and counseling programs. 

Some current players also have troubling histories

The Buccaneers currently have Antonio Brown and Richard Sherman on their roster.

Over the past two years, Brown has faced accusations of sexual assault, intimidation, and burglary as well as multiple public meltdowns.

Just months before Sherman was signed to the Buccaneers, he was arrested in Washington and was facing charges of his own, including one on suspicion of burglary domestic violence.

All four cases are different. It’s not a contest about whose transgressions are worse. But by invoking their “core values as an organization,” the Buccaneers bring the question of weighing these cases against each other upon themselves.

If inclusion within the Buccaneers organization comes down to ensuring that one’s actions don’t “go against [their] core values,” Tampa Bay is making those values pretty clear.

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