Ethics Quiz: The Cancelled Coach’s Video Game Avatar


This is almost too stupid for Ethics Alarms to comment on, but as regular readers here know, very little is too stupid to interest me.

We discussed earlier the fate of Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who was always a pretty revolting character (and everyone knew it) but who was brought down when a bunch of his old emails were made public. One seemed pretty clearly racist; some were sexist, some were homophobic, and some were just politically incorrect to the Progressive Mob the NFL is kowtowing to these days. Gruden was forced out of his job, and now the woke brigade is in the process of making him a non-person, because the Soviet Union understood these things, I guess.

Now we learn that Gruden will be removed from the popular “Madden NFL 22” video game, as developer EA Sports announced last week. Gruden’s image will be replaced with a generic, imaginary coach who never sent emails that insulted Joe Biden.

EA Sports explained: “EA Sports is committed to taking action in maintaining a culture of inclusion and equity. Due to the circumstances of Jon Gruden’s resignation, we are taking steps to remove him from Madden NFL 22. We will replace him with a generic likeness via a title update in the coming weeks.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Is this really “doing the right thing”?

This is one of those quizzes in which I’m seeking an answer that will change my mind. I think EA Sports’ decision to remove a digital Gruden from its video game is asinine, and its statement, like the move itself, is transparent virtue-signaling. Worse, continuing to normalize the cultural practice of purging individuals who have violated (or been accused of violating) social norms from the cultural record and have them erased from history as if they never existed is yet another (of many) recent steps in the direction of totalitarianism, specifically the practice of constructing a false record to support current mandated positions and beliefs.


  • How does eliminating a digital likeness of a football coach “maintain a culture of inclusion and equity” How does it accomplish anything at all?
  • How many people who play that game give one fecal lump about the emails of the digital coach of one of the teams? My guess: none.
  • Anyone who is “triggered,’ upset or feels unsafe because a digital coach insulted a black man in an email six years ago is in swift need of mental health intervention. That’s an argument for leaving Gruden in the game: the sooner such individuals realize they need help, the better for everyone.
  • Is this going to be EA’s standard now? I am reasonable certain that a small amount of digging would then require it to remove 20-50% of the players and coaches simulated in the game.

But hey, maybe I’m missing something. Enlighten me.

19 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: The Cancelled Coach’s Video Game Avatar

  1. The explanation given is assine, however, if the game otherwise is updated to reflect player trades and staff changed throughout the season, then removing the coach character is a non-story. They are trying to get woke brownie points for something they would have otherwise done as a matter of course.

    Updating the character is ethically neutral; assuming it were routine. Assigning a sinister motive to a routine update makes them dunces.

  2. I believe it’s as asinine as removing certain episodes of say, The Golden Girls, for not being PC. If someone committed & was convicted of a heinous crime (serial rape a la Cosby), I support The Cosby Show not being streamed on Prime. Yet, the entire series is now available there.
    Being an asshole isn’t illegal in this country (yet), so no, digital Gruden stays. If they remove him, they should be removing every player who beats their spouse, which IS a crime. There goes a good percentage of people!

  3. It does seem contrived. However, on the new Madden, the updates actually keep up with real time changes. So, if a player is injured in real life, they are gone in the game. If a team trades a quarterback, the new quarterback is the starter. Technically, removing Gruden is in line with how the game functions now, so it doesn’t even need a social justice motivation. However, I’m sure there is one. There’s also a message that pops up in between loading screens that says you should report other online players if anyone displays racist, sexist, etc. behavior.

    What’s really odd about that message is that online video game play is notorious for being really rough and nasty. People don’t hold back. They use racial slurs, sexual slurs, etc. more as just a kind of extreme smack talk rather than any sort of real animus, but the behavior is still mostly tolerated. The online video game world has allowed this kind of bad sportsmanship to go on for years and has done nothing about it until it was politically convenient. So, there’s a definite financial interest at play.

  4. Re: game ethics
    Tiger Woods had the same fate. I wouldn’t know, probably, but I bought his golf video game 1 week before it was pulled due to his personal vices. Oops. Just saying it’s pretty standard policy for games.

  5. How does EA reconcile its commitment to inclusion and equity by excluding and marginalizing those who don’t submit to the prescribed culture?

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