NFL Network’s America’s Game marathon skips the Jon Gruden, Rich Dalrymple years

Gruden and the Lombardi Trophy
Getty Images

In a weekend devoid of much NFL news, NFL Network has made a little news, thanks to an interesting broadcasting decision.

The league-owned and league-operated broadcast channel televised a marathon of the America’s Game series, documentaries delving into the various Super Bowl champions, all the way back to the inaugural AFL-NFL World Championship Game. From the first through the 55th (the latest one, featuring the 2021 Rams, will likely debut in September), every single episode aired — with two notable exceptions.

The 2002 Buccaneers and the 1995 Cowboys ended up in the “do not play” pile.

The folks at strenuously objected to the Tampa Bay omission. Our guess is that it traces directly to the fact that Jon Gruden, the first-year coach of the Super Bowl XXXVII champions at the time, currently has active litigation against the league — and because he was forced out of his job as coach of the Raiders after someone (he claims in his lawsuit that it was the league office and the Commissioner) leaked emails Gruden had sent to former Washington executive Bruce Allen in 2011.

Tyler Dunne of points out that the 1995 Cowboys also weren’t included. As Dunne speculates (likely accurately), that episode was leapfrogged because it includes extensive narration from former Cowboys P.R. executive Rich Dalrymple, who abruptly retired not long before reported that Dalrymple allegedly had videotaped cheerleaders while they were changing clothes in 2015, and that the team eventually paid out $2.4 million to settle any potential legal claims.

That situation remains conspicuously unresolved, as it relates to possible league discipline. The Cowboys investigated it on their own. The NFL has not responded to past inquiries regarding whether the Cowboys notified the league office of the potential Personal Conduct Policy violation arising from the claims. Amazingly, even though the situation involves the highest-profile team in the league, the issue essentially disappeared nearly as quickly as it had surfaced.

Fifty-five episodes. Two omissions. Plausible reasons exist for the league to refuse to surrender its platform to a pair of men it currently regards as scoundrels. In other words, this was no boating accident.

And, of course, by not just including the two episodes, the league has made it into a bigger issue than it would have been.

Meanwhile, if you’re now sufficiently intrigued to watch the omitted episodes, the 1995 Cowboys can be seen here. And the 2002 Buccaneers can be seen here.

Neither will be seen anywhere on NFL Network, any time soon.

12 responses to “NFL Network’s America’s Game marathon skips the Jon Gruden, Rich Dalrymple years

  1. Wow. The 30 For 30 on The Tuck Rule also played like they reworked it into something far clumsier than it should have been to exclude Gruden after he became persona non grata. I doubt it’s even Gruden’s lawsuit affecting their decision making as much as it is the league’s desire to make him a scapegoat and public trophy for “cleaning up the league,” while Dan Snyder continues to do whatever he pleases.

  2. How trivial. About on the “I’m taking you off my Facebook” level. Why begrudge them of accomplishments achieved long before any character issues manifested themselves?

  3. They probably skipped the ’95 Super Bowl as a courtesy to the Steelers. No one needs to see the embarrassment that was Neil O’Donnell again.

  4. I love when people get un-personed. Someone should write a book about how that happens.

  5. The best America’s Game was the 1970 Colts. Despite beating the Cowboys for the first Lombardi named trophy, the players were still upset about losing SB III to the Jets …

  6. But OJ Simpson is still listed on NFL network greatest running backs of all time (as he should). I guess he didn’t do anything directly to the league so whatever.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.