It’s been quite a week for those of you paying attention to current events, especially in sports. So it won’t surprise you to learn that for the cold open on the latest episode of “Saturday Night Live,” the show tackled the latest NFL scandal.
You remember: A whole bunch of racist, homophobic and sexist emails sent by Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden were made public, and he was forced to resign. Because of all the racist, sexist homophobia? Cool.
The joke began with Cecily Strong playing “prefers to remain anonymous,” the person who handles PR for the NFL. She then introduced NFL commissioner Roger Godell, played by Colin Jost. Jost ran down a lot of the greatest hits of the Gruden scandal, which of course included a lot of insults aimed at him.
Next, James Austin Johnson plated Gruden, followed by James Moffat as Mark Davis, owner of the Las Vegas Raiders. Pete Davidson appeared for a brief moment, as did Heidi Gardner, who played a representative for the Washington Football Team to introduce the team’s new mascot — an Italian stereotype played by Kyle Mooney.
And finally, Chris Redd came out as Chris Kaepernick who pointed out that he was fired for calling out racism, leading Godell to come back out and announce that LeVar Burton (played by Kenan Thompson) was the new coach of the Raiders. Of course he did a parody of the “Reading Rainbow”, but about being a football coach.
Overall it was amusing, not exactly toothless but certainly could have hit a little harder than just running down the greatest hits of the scandal. Still, at least the subtext — the NFL is a trash organization with deep rooted problems — was unambiguous.
Watch an excerpt from the cold open “SNL” sketch at the top of the page.
And while President Joe Biden wasn’t parodied, I might as well remind our readers that at the beginning of this season, “SNL” finally landed on what certainly appears to be the show’s permanent Joe Biden: New featured player James Austin Johnson, who played POTUS in the season premiere. Prior to his current job, Johnson rose to fame on his uncanny Trump impression and it turned out he makes a pretty good Biden too, definitely a massive step up from the reductive (and not really getting it) wackiness of Jim Carrey during the fall of 2020. And his impression was a lot more accurate than Alex Moffat, who stepped in a couple of times in the spring of 2021 when the show needed a Biden.
Not that the show necessarily needs a permanent Biden considering how rarely it bothers parodying Joe Biden. That comes in stark contrast to the Trump years, when it often seemed that Alec Baldwin was a “SNL” cast member in all but name. Then again, Biden doesn’t have a habit of regularly saying, or doing, horrible things that freak everyone out. So far at least, just to pull one example out of a hat, Biden hasn’t defended white supremacists after one of them murdered someone. There’s less material, is what I’m getting at here.