Jon Gruden is hoping to get one more chance at leading an NFL team, and his former player Andre Rison says he deserves that opportunity ... telling TMZ Sports he would not defend the coach if he truly believed he was not a man of character.
The former Raiders coach recently opened up about the email scandal that led to his departure in Las Vegas ... saying his words were "shameful," but hoping his mistakes wouldn't permanently keep him out of the league.
Jon Gruden at the Little Rock Touchdown club commenting on the emails that ended his NFL coaching career. pic.twitter.com/1ClcWtdTRn
Rison -- who played for Gruden on the Raiders in 2000 -- tells us he believes his old coach is sincere about his regret and accountability ... and says if he were in charge of a team right now, he'd be giving Jon a call.
"No one is God," Rison said. "For some reason in today's time, everybody think they're God now because social media and whatever other platforms that they can voice their opinions."
"God gave him the gift to coach and it's up to him and God if he repents, and forgives for his negatives and his faults and his defaults, I have no problem with it."
Rison says he knows firsthand Gruden is not racist ... adding, "For him to be a racist, if he was a racist, he darn sure gave a lot of black athletes chances and opportunities to put food on the table for their families."