The Poor Critical Thinking of Five Thirty Eight on Jon Gruden and Racism

Executive Summary

  • A professor writing for Five Thirty-Eight used the percentage of black players on the Raiders to prove that Jon Gruden is racist.
  • We review this logic.


In the article, we will analyze the Jon Gruden article which claims to use the percentage of black players for the Raiders under Gruden to show evidence of racism.

Our References for This Article

See this link if you want to see our references for this article and other related Brightwork articles at this link.

The Jon Gruden Article

This article was written for Five Three Eight by Michael Tesler.

Years before Jon Gruden resigned in disgrace as the Las Vegas Raiders’ head coach over a series of racist, misogynistic and homophobic emails, Chip Kelly faced scrutiny over his record on race during his tenure as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Running back LeSean McCoy, who was traded from the Eagles to the Buffalo Bills in 2015, told ESPN The Magazine later that year that Kelly was eager to jettison the team’s “good Black players,” adding, “there’s a reason he got rid of all the Black players — the good ones — like that.” McCoy wasn’t the only one to question the racial motives behind Kelly’s roster moves: ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said after McCoy was traded that Kelly’s personnel decisions “leave a few brothers feeling uncomfortable.” Tra Thomas, a former offensive lineman and assistant coach for the Eagles,1 voiced those same concerns when he asserted that a number of Philadelphia’s players thought there was a “hint of racism” in the locker room under Kelly’s leadership.

The accusations against Kelly — now the coach at UCLA — prompted my own statistical investigation into how race might matter in NFL roster decisions. My analysis of data collected on each player’s racial background from Best Tickets’ Unofficial 2014 NFL Player Census2 found that the 10 teams in 2014 who had Black people in the key leadership roles of head coach and/or general manager had significantly more Black players on their rosters than the 22 other NFL teams. No team did more to drive that year’s statistically significant negative correlation3 between whiter team leadership and having fewer Black players on NFL rosters than Kelly’s Eagles. In fact, the significant differences4 between the percentage of Black players on the Eagles (50.9 percent) and the rest of the NFL (68.3 percent) were beyond the statistical threshold that the courts and federal bureaucracy generally recognize as potential discrimination.

Why is the comparison the rest of the NFL? The US population is around 13% black. However, the league is 68.3% black. It appears as if the expectation is that the natural default race for an NFL player is black. At 50%, the Eagles were 50.9/13 or 3.84 times more prevalent in the NFL than in US society.

Furthermore, this comment regarding a statistical threshold that the US courts and federal bureaucracy recognize as potential discrimination is only partially valid.

Indian companies like WiPro and Infosys are nearly entirely Indian — even in their US operations. However, these companies do not face the consequences of this discrimination because only non-whites have any protection against being discriminated against. Indians think it is totally normal that a company that services the US market would have a racial composition of India. Blacks consider it completely natural that the NFL would be mostly black. Chinese in the US consider it entirely normal that Chinese companies would only employ Chinese people. In fact, the only people I can find who think it is a problem that their companies do not hire 100% of their racial composition are whites.

Tesler continues.

Meanwhile, the team most responsible for driving the positive correlation between African American general managers having more Black players on their rosters in 2014 was none other than the Raiders. Under the leadership of the team’s African American general manager, Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders (then playing in Oakland) had a higher share of Black players on their roster (79.2 percent) than any other NFL team in 2014. According to data compiled on the racial composition of each NFL team’s roster by ProFootballLogic,5 the Raiders also had the NFL’s highest percentage of Black players (82.3 percent) in 2016 — the year that McKenzie won executive of the year honors after the team’s impressive 12-win showing. It’s probably not a coincidence, either, that the two teams with the next highest shares of Black players, the Giants and Bills, also had African American GMs. Indeed, the five NFL teams with Black GMs in 2016 had rosters that were, on average, 75.4 percent Black, compared with 67.7 percent for the 27 teams that did not — a statistically significant difference6 in percent of Black players that we can be confident was not simply due to random variation.

Tesler appears to be making the argument that black GMs discriminate against non-blacks.

However, does Tesler bring this up as a problem? No. According to Tesler, the only problem is when a team has a percentage of black players below the NFL average.

Tesler continues.

The Raiders’ racial composition was virtually identical in 2017, the year before Gruden began his second stint as the team’s head coach. While there’s no publicly available data on the racial composition of NFL rosters after 2016, my admittedly crude coding7 of the team’s roster once again found that 82.0 percent of the Raiders’ players were Black in 2017. But the number of Black players on the Raiders sharply declined soon after Gruden became the Raiders’ “de facto football czar.” By the end of the 2018 season, McKenzie had been fired, and Gruden assumed even more control over the Raiders’ personnel decisions. That included changing the roster’s racial composition: My analysis of the team’s rosters found that the share of Black players on the Raiders declined from 82.0 percent in 2017 to 69.0 percent in 2019 and 67.1 percent in 2020 and 67.2 percent in 2021.

But wait, didn’t McKenzie also change the racial composition of the Raiders when he was the GM? McKenzie had the Raiders at 15 percentage points higher than the NFL average. Under Gruden, the Raiders declined to 67.2% in 2021, or 1.8% lower than the NFL average.

Let us review this Tesler evidence and concern.

  1. Under a black GM, the percentage of black players was 15 percentage points higher than the NFL average.
  2. Under Gruden, the percentage of black players was 1.8 percentage points lower than the NFL average.
  3. If we take an average of the three years listed here under Gruden, the percentage of black players under Gruden was 1.24 percentage points lower than the NFL average.

This sounds like McKenzie was far more discriminatory than Gruden. The only evidence that Tesler can point to regarding Gruden is that the percentage of black players under him was low compared to the far more discriminatory McKenzie. However, considering how our of the norm the Raiders were when McKenzie was the GM, is that a reasonable comparison?

Tesler continues.

To be sure, those notable differences say nothing about the coach’s racial motives in constructing his roster. Some of the changes to the roster’s demographics, after all, could simply be regression to the mean percentage of Black players in the NFL. But, as former NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson critically said of his former head coach on his ESPN Radio show with Jay Williams and Max Kellerman, “A team is put together by the makeup of a coach. And a coach wants a certain personality.” It’s pretty clear from his emails the type of personality that Gruden preferred on his team; and it’s easy to look back in hindsight with that knowledge and find a persistent pattern of anti-Black bias in the coach’s decisions.

First, Keyshawn Johnson hates Jon Gruden. That is his right. Many ex-players hate Jon Gruden. However, while Jon Gruden usually is hated for being a bully and domineering and a “little Hitler,” many white players like Chris Simms have described how they were essentially terrorized while playing for him. Gruden has a problem getting along with many people as he is a dominator in his personality type. However, the problem is that until these emails, I had never heard any report around Gruden being racist. And if one looks at the supposedly racist comment from Gruden in the email, it is that he stated DeMaurice Smith had..

“lips as big as Michellin tires.”

There is a problem with saying this is a racist comment.

DeMaurice Smith does have objectively large lips. They are some of the largest lips I have ever seen. He has larger lips than a typical black man, and it is one of the first things you notice about his appearance is what big lips he has.

Therefore, it is not clear this is a racist comment. Racism means making a claim that some racial group is superior to that other racial group and that one group deserves to dominate the other group. We have now migrated the term away from its original meaning to now mean any observation of any difference. Some Italians who are mobsters have had their larger physical features or body characteristics as their nicknames. These are names like Michael “The Nose” Mancuso and Fat Tony Salerno. These men did not have these things just said behind their back or in private emails, but they were their nicknames. If all it takes to be a racist comment is to say that Smith has dark skin, (that is observation of a physical characteristic) is a racist comment. Smith also does not have blond hair — but is that another racist comment?

Therefore, Tesler and basically all media have concluded that this comment was racist, but the statement is simply picking out a body part and making fun of it. Gruden heaped criticisms on many different people in his email — calling Roger Goodell a faggot. However, Gruden certainly knows that Goodell is not gay. He called other people pussies, but again, the people he called pussies were men. Gruden is a crude man. But these emails were not meant for everyone to read — they were meant for only the intended recipient, the GM of the Washington Redskins. Furthermore, the universal nature of Gruden’s harsh criticism have not been interpreted as simply how he speaks but has instead been presented as if Gruden is bigoted against all groups. There are very few openly gay players in the NFL. In fact, there is only one. Carl Nassim. And he plays for the Raiders. Yet no media entity has written an article on how strange it is that Gruden has 100% of the openly gay players in the NFL on his team.

Tesler continues…

Regardless of his reasons, though, Gruden’s email scandal is yet another reminder of the importance of diversity in leadership positions in the NFL.

Is it?

Well, according to Tesler’s statistics, it seems like the more significant issue is why Reggie McKenzie was so discriminatory against non-black players. And when Tesler says “diversity,” does he mean diversity, or does he mean non-white people?

Tesler continues.

The 2014 and 2016 data on racial compositions of NFL rosters suggests that even in professional football — an ostensible meritocracy where performance is much more objective and transparent than it is in other professions — race is still a significant factor in personnel decisions. The power imbalance in a league composed primarily of Black players but largely run by white head coaches and general managers means there will always be the potential for implicit and explicit racial biases to affect roster moves.

This is a very poorly thought-out statement. Without any evidence, Tesler is stating that the appropriate percentage of black players is higher than the NFL average?

How does Tesler know this?

White GMs from the statistics presented hire or select fewer black players than black GMs, but what is the correct level of blacks on an NFL team. It appears that Tesler thinks that the percentage of blacks under Reggie McKenzie, which is 82.3% is the right amount — however that is 82.3/13 = 6.3 times their representation in the population. Why does Tesler never broach the topic of why such a higher percentage of the league is black? One also wonders if Tesler would like to see even higher black domination of the NFL, say 90% — and that doing this would show the NFL is even more diverse. The perfect level of diversity is met when the NFL is 100% black — and approximates the soccer team’s racial diversity in, say, Nigeria. This is also referred to as “inclusion.” The NBA is the same way — it is now simply expected that NBA teams will be nearly all black. And the question asked by race scammers is why if nearly all the players are black, why the entire administration of the team is not much more black. One man being asked about the NBA stated that the Toronto Raptors, which are nearly all black, better matched the “diversity of Canada.”

The Toronto Raptors apparently represent the diversity in Canada. Quick, looking at these players, if that were true, then wouldn’t Canada be an African country? Surprisingly, blacks represent only 2.9% of Canada’s population. However, no matter, this team is according to one man, representing Canada’s diversity. 

An Article Written by Someone Engaged in Race Scamming

The logic of Tesler was so poor; I had to review who Tesler was. And I found this description at the end of the article.

Michael Tesler is a professor of political science at University of California, Irvine, author of “Post-Racial or Most-Racial? Race and Politics in the Obama Era” and co-author of “Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America.”

This bio made me question if this professor is a part of the race scamming industry. Then I looked for a picture of Mr. “Telser.” Here is what I found (along with many other photos of him).

How is this man’s last name Tesler? Tesler is a Russian last name, and this man is clearly Hispanic and looks, in fact, like many Mexicans that live in the US.

One wonders if this was a name change to make it appear less obvious that Tesler is engaging in race scamming.

Tesler as Part of the Two Top Race Scamming Groups in the US

Hispanics, along with blacks, are two of the largest grievance groups and filled with race scammers. Tesler appears to be Mexican and works at the University of California at Irvine. Now, Tesler could live in Mexico, which brings up the question of why he doesn’t. For Mexicans (and Latin Americans generally, and Asians, etc..), it is essential for Mexicans not to be made to live in a country actually run by Mexicans or non whites. Mexicans often complain that they did not like the outcome of the Mexican-American War and believe that the Western US still belongs to Mexico, but they show far less interest in actually living in areas run by the Mexican government. People who are deported to Mexico often burst into tears, which makes one question Mexicans’ faith in their country. And deporting them to their home country is categorized as an “act of cruelty.” And for Tesler or Hernandez or whatever this man’s real name is, demands to be given access to only white countries to live — and then within these countries to engage in ceaseless race scamming.

Mexicans Are All About Meritocracy?

Tesler’s heritage brings up another question.

Mexico is known for high degrees of corruption and nepotism. There is no thought given to hiring unqualified family members, hiring based on friendship, etc.. So when Tesler discusses non-discrimination, he is discussing a concept invented in white countries and something he and his culture have nothing to do with. I have seen a number of Mexican-run businesses in the US, and I have never seen any non-Mexican working there. Is Tesler really in favor of anti-discrimination, or is he only in favor of it when it means “people of color” receive preferential treatment for jobs? Is he in favor of people like him, who appear to have relatively marginal intellectual capabilities, being given academic positions based on their race, which is why he has his current job at UC Irvine? Is he willing to follow the modality of a university-based upon a Western Civilization and follow the evidence to a conclusion, or, as his article indicates, more interested in the Latin American approach of figuring out what conclusion is most appealing, and then rigging the analysis to match that conclusion?

I find it curious that all of these people from manifestly unjust societies, and whose immigration to the US or other white countries have done nothing to improve or even maintain the level of civilization in those societies (just take a drive to Mexican areas in inland California to see the degree of civilization exhibited by Mexicans in the US), appeal to ideals that are entirely based in Western Civilization, and which they do not themselves share.

I found other examples of race scamming from Tesler in Wikipedia

Old-fashioned racism (OFR) is a type of racism that asserts that minorities are biologically inferior to white people. OFR is also associated with the belief that minorities should be segregated from white society, and that minorities do not deserve policies to help mitigate the barriers of discrimination.

This is deceptively stated. OFR is what non-whites think who demand to live in only white or white-originated countries.

The scholar Michael Tesler argues that the election of the first black president Barack Obama in 2008 caused a resurgence of old-fashioned racism in US society. Tesler found that both overt, old-fashioned racism and racial resentment influenced how people perceived Obama. – Wikipedia

Is Tesler a scholar? Because his article I just reviewed was innumerate race scamming. Tesler-Hernandez has a job at a university, but he is not a scholar. What I reviewed was not a work of scholarship. Many Hispanics have positions at universities through affirmative action who have contributed close to nothing to these universities but spend much of their time doing the type of race scamming found in this article I just reviewed.


Tesler’s article is misleading and poorly thought out. He does not seem to realize his own illogical biases and presents a series of assumptions, one being that the right number of people to be hired for jobs is always the least white number of people, and expects his readers to accept these assumptions. Under his Mexican logic, inclusiveness and diversity simply translate to the fewest possible whites.