Fourth and Long: John Gruden and the Myth of Perfection

Soon to be released book questions the prevailing attitude towards perceived indiscretion

Personally, I much prefer someone genuinely seeking redemption than someone who doesn’t think they need it. ”

— Howard Rankin

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC, UNITED STATES, October 27, 2021 / — A new book by best-selling author and coach Dr. Howard Rankin, Falling to Grace: The Art and Science of Redemption is scheduled for release on Good Friday, April 15, 2022. The author uses a current example of how society has developed a simplistic, judgmental and ineffective way of dealing with perceived indiscretion. Rankin writes:

“Football guru and coach John Gruden resigned earlier this week in the wake of decade old email trail that apparently uncovered racist and misogynistic sentiments. Gruden’s resignation will surely mean the end of such racist and misogynistic profiling round the league: in locker rooms, Board rooms and even on the field there will be no more prejudice and abuse. NO! That idea is obviously a false start; it’s incomplete — an impulsive reaction to a perceived situation. Now what follows is not a defense of unpleasant or even abusive sentiments about anything but more an attack on pious and hypocritical reactions and simplistic, binary thinking that only limits productive discussion, promotes extremism but also makes matters worse.

In a game full of offensive lines, Gruden’s apparently went too far, although the NFL were not responsible for Gruden’s decision to resign, as far as I can tell.

Now, of course, this isn’t just about the NFL. It’s about pretty much every company and institution in America. They are not taking the high road, they are actually closing the path altogether. These organizations are all perfect, have never made a mistake and none of their employees, board members or associates have ever thought, let alone muttered, an offensive word against anybody.

As this situation shows, the problem today is that anyone who is seen as crossing the line, a line that is totally defined by every one of us individually, is condemned and judged with a contemptible hypocrisy.

“Judging a person doesn’t define who they are. It defines who you are.” – Kristen Stewart

The problem with this hypocritic oath is that it makes the situation worse. It pretends that there’s such a thing as perfection and everyone should reach that goal and if they don’t, they are clearly guilty of being an ineligible man downfield – or anywhere else. Just plain ineligible. Just ask any felon about eligibility.

“Man is the only animal to blush – or needs to.” – Mark Twain

This conditioned hypocrisy shuts down the conversation. It allows for no discussion. It eliminates the possibility of redemption. And because no-one is perfect, we all have to practice redemption – but good luck with that in a culture that is very quick to judge and very slow to forgive. New Orleans fans know that every Saint has a past and every sinner has a future – or should.

So, the default setting is to habituate binary thinking, preach you are holier-than-thou, shut down the conversation and in some cases try to leverage the fall-out for your own benefit.

However, suppose we did things differently. Suppose there’s a coach called John Goodone who has made some abusive and discriminatory comments. Instead of shutting him up and getting him to the sidelines as quickly as possible, we created a culture where Goodone was able to address his comments. In those comments, he admits to the inappropriateness and potential damage of some of his remarks. He explains how he let them out and they don’t reflect what he really believes, especially in view of the fact that a majority of the players he has worked with over the years are from the underclass of society. He explains how easy it is to be angry and careless. He offers suggestions as how to identify those moments that can get you in trouble and how to manage them. He apologizes for his comments and any discomfort they may have caused. In other words, he offers a real discussion about how to avoid being abusive and how to redeem yourself if you fall into that trap. We need this sort of replay – instant or otherwise – to show what really happened, why and how to achieve redemption.

Personally, I much prefer someone genuinely seeking redemption than someone who doesn’t think they need it.

In my book I Think Therefore I Am Wrong: A Guide to Bias, Political Correctness, Fake News and the Future of Mankind I quote this example.

“There was a priest who was interviewing captured German soldiers during World War II. He asked one of them whether he was sorry that he had killed people.

The soldier said that he was not sorry that he had killed.

Then the priest asked him a more profound question.

“Are you sorry that you’re not sorry?”

Goodone has the opportunity to open up a genuine and caring conversation, that will enhance and illuminate the topic, rather than once again be forced by others to brush it under the rug with a willful smugness of someone who never makes a mistake. Goodone might emerge as a strong voice for appropriate communication and redemption. And God knows we need both.

As a communication expert, I believe that not only is the standard holier-than-thou attitude a great example of unnecessary roughness, but it also eliminates any productive conversation and simply creates an even bigger divide. And as any NFL exec or team knows, ‘winning’ can be deceptive and is often temporary. The NFL and every other organization cannot summarily dismiss the RPO – Redemption Penance Option. Ever since the Snake Bowl in Eden Gardens, it has been about recognizing imperfection and seeking redemption, not pretending arrogantly you’re are somehow above the rest of humankind.

So, my message to the NFL and every other corporation out there is to remember that NFL stands for Never Forget Love. And remember that with appropriate consideration, the redemptive path can heal more than one soul.”

Falling to Grace: The Art and Science of Redemption is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Howard J Rankin
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Source: EIN Presswire