A drip, drip of leaked racist, sexist, and homophobic emails led to the resignation of Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden. That led us to wonder: What was Gruden like during his time as Eagles offensive coordinator in the mid-’90s?

Marcus Hayes not only takes us back to those times with his column today on covering Gruden, but also reports on how those familiar with Jeffrey Lurie’s thinking knew that there were reasons the Eagles owner wasn’t ever going to make Gruden a head coach here.

Gruden seemingly became a caricature of himself. Through the years, he carelessly sent disturbing emails. Parting ways with a coach like that became an easy decision — child’s play, if you will.

The column leaves us thinking about how well can we really get to know sports figures, how people can change, and the influence they can carry.

Today, let’s take a closer look — at Gruden and others in sports such as Ben Simmons and Kevin Hayes.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

Early Birds

The Eagles after Sunday’s win aren’t without their issues.

See the two players above blocking for Miles Sanders? Both Dallas Goedert and Lane Johnson appear unlikely to play Thursday night against the defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Goedert was placed on the COVID-19/reserve list on Tuesday, and it appears Johnson will miss a third straight game due to a personal matter after missing a walk-through. For Johnson, it’s a significant enough issue that coach Nick Sirianni placed the No. 65 on his visor during Sunday’s game and said that he was hopeful that Johnson would return to action this season.

Then there’s Sanders, who hasn’t gotten many touches this season. It was also noticed that Sanders made a couple of significant errors in Sunday’s win, including going out of bounds when he could have stayed inbounds to keep the clock running.

Overall, the Eagles just aren’t there yet. And that’s why as they face the Bucs, none of our beat writers or our fantasy football expert, KC Joyner, is picking the Eagles to win on Thursday.

Off the Dribble

Arriving in Philadelphia on Monday night to take a COVID-19 test was the easy part for Ben Simmons. The true challenge will be when he rejoins his teammates, especially Joel Embiid. What kind of welcome will he receive? “There’s gonna be some adjustments, but it doesn’t need to be awkward,” Embiid said. “We are professionals. We want to win.” And for Embiid, that means Simmons being fully committed if he decides to rejoin the team.

Doc Rivers knows a thing or two about holdouts because he was one himself with the Clippers in 1991.

Next: As the Sixers seek a resolution to the Simmons saga, they wrap up the preseason with a trip to Detroit to play the Pistons at 7 p.m. Friday (NBC Sports Philadelphia).

On the Fly

Remember that rush on the first day of school to see if you ended up in the same homeroom as your best friends? Well, there will be no such drama for four members of the Flyers this year — as besties Kevin Hayes, Keith Yandle, Cam Atkinson, and Derick Brassard have linked up for a run at the Stanley Cup.

How did this come to fruition? Let’s just say Hayes is a better recruiter than Villanova basketball coach Jay Wright. Or as teammate James van Riemsdyk put it:

“That A on [Hayes’] jersey might stand for assistant GM.”

While Hayes won’t play in Friday’s opener because of an abdominal injury, defensemen Ryan Ellis and Rasmus Ristolainen are expected to. Oh, did we fail to mention the Flyers acquired yet another of Hayes’ Myspace Top 8 on Monday? Patrick Brown, who was claimed off waivers, played with Hayes at Boston College.

Potentially a good omen for the Flyers? Hayes and Brown won a national title together while at BC.

Worth a look

  • Throw the book out: It was quite a call to go for it on fourth-and-1 from Villanova’s own 29-yard line while leading by a point. The Wildcats gained that yard and were able to run out the clock for the win. Let’s go deep inside the play call that set aside analytics in favor of guts.

  • Regrets, I’ve had too few QBs: Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford was injured in Saturday’s loss to Iowa, and as it turns out, coach James Franklin’s decision not to add another QB via the transfer portal ended up being a key decision.

  • Salty to the wounded: Booing injured players? That’s not cool. But Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz had something to say about why fans did it during Penn State’s loss.

  • But his emails: Think Jon Gruden’s a rare case in the NFL? Op-ed columnist Solomon Jones doesn’t think so.

GameDay Central

Follow the Eagles-Bucs game as it happens on GameDay Central, with in-game comments from The Inquirer’s writers, photos, and more.