Jon Gruden has resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after emails spanning a seven year period revealed homophobic, racist and misogynistic comments.
It’s worth noting that Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib, who came out as gay in June, is the only out player in the NFL.
“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” read a statement from the Raiders Twitter account. “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
Mark Davis, owner of the Raiders, issued a statement soon after saying he had accepted the resignation.
"I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone."
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) October 12, 2021
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) October 12, 2021
I would be remiss if I didn’t note the irony that in 2014 (when Michael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams) the idea of a gay NFL player was discussed as a possible “distraction” for a team. And here we are today, where a coach using homophobic language is now the “distraction.”
Jon Gruden’s resignation on Monday came just hours after a report by the New York Times detailed several emails where Gruden casually used homophobic and misogynistic language during his time as a lead analyst for ESPN.
According to the Times, the emails in question were sent between Gruden and Bruce Allen, then the president of the Washington Football Team. His remarks included:
• Calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football pussy.”
• Criticized Goodell for pressuring St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher in 2014 to draft “queers” in a reference to Michael Sam.
• Gruden also reportedly used a homophobic slur several times in reference to Goodell as well as team owners, coaches and members of the media.
• Suggested that NFL player Eric Reid should have been fired for taking a knee alongside Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem.
• Denouncing the emergence of women as referees in the NFL.
• Exchanging emails with several men that included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms including a photo of NFL cheerleaders.
• Mocking Caitlyn Jenner, who received an award from ESPN in 2015 after she had transitioned.
ESPN denounced the remarks in a statement saying, “The comments are clearly repugnant under any circumstance.”
But the report on Monday by the Times wasn’t the beginning of Gruden’s problems.
“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” he wrote in the email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Jon Gruden, head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, used a racist trope when describing the top NFL players' executive in a 2011 emailhttps://t.co/bnyfx7dQ5K
— Brooke Thomas (@BrookeOnAir) October 8, 2021
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that an email from Gruden in 2011 included a racist remark in reference to NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith. The email, sent as the NFL and its players were trying to resolve a lockout, said Smith had “lips the size of michellin tires.”
In response to the WSJ’s report, Gruden told ESPN, “I’m ashamed I insulted De Smith. I never had a racial thought when I used it. … I’m embarrassed by what’s out there. I certainly never meant for it to sound that bad.”
“I was in a bad frame of mind at the time [in 2011], and I called Roger Goodell a [expletive] in one of these emails too,” Gruden continued. “They were keeping players and coaches from doing what they love with a lockout. There also were a lot of things being reported publicly about the safety of the sport that I love.”
At the time, the NFL was “looking into the matter, with disciplinary action possible,” according to EPSN.
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement that the league found the remarks “appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values.”
Smith responded to the report saying, “The email from Jon Gruden – and some of the reaction to it – confirms that the fight against racism, racist tropes and intolerance is not over.”
🧵 The email from Jon Gruden – and some of the reaction to it – confirms that the fight against racism, racist tropes and intolerance is not over. This is not about an email as much as it is about a pervasive belief by some that people who look like me can be treated as less.
— DeMaurice Smith (@demauricesmith) October 11, 2021
But then came the Times report on Monday.
The emails came to light due to an investigation into workplace misconduct with the Washington Football Team, not Jon Gruden. But his emails to Allen were among the more than 650,000 emails being examined. The NFL had sent Gruden’s emails to the Raiders for review.
In 2018, Gruden reportedly signed a 10-year, $100 million contract to coach the Raiders. He had previously coached the team from 1998 to 2001 before being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he beat his former team in the 2003 Super Bowl. He leaves this tenure with a 22-31 record.
Keyshawn Johnson, who played for Gruden on the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl winning team had this to say about Gruden’s resignation:
— Keyshawn, JWill & Max (@KeyJayandMax) October 12, 2021
The Raiders organization announced that assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia will serve as interim head coach.
Last thing on this. If Gruden was only racist he'd still have a job.
— quincy_avery (@Quincy_Avery) October 12, 2021