The NFL is investigating a 10-year-old email in which Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden reportedly used a racial trope to disparage and describe NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The email in question was sent to Bruce Allen, then the president of the Washington Football Team, and said that Smith had “lips the size of michellin tires,” the Journal reported.
NEW: At the crescendo of the 2011 NFL lockout, Jon Gruden sent an email that used a racist trope to describe NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. "Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.” https://t.co/MQn55oEMZE— Andrew Beaton (@andrewlbeaton) October 8, 2021
Gruden — who has has been the Raiders’ head coach of the Raiders since January 2018 — was a broadcaster on ESPN’s Monday Night Football at the time he is said to have sent the email about Smith. The Wall Street Journal reported that the league is now reviewing Gruden’s action for possible discipline.
The NFL released a strong statement about the comments on Friday afternoon, according to Tom Pelissero.
Statement from the NFL: "The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values. We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else." https://t.co/FSpVIv6D4t— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 8, 2021
UPDATE: Raiders’ owner Mark Davis released a statement Friday afternoon.
Gruden apologized to Smith and told the Wall Street Journal: “I’m really sorry.” He said he was frustrated with Smith’s leadership during the 2011 NFL lockout. In an interview with The Athletic on Friday, Gruden said he didn’t remember the email, but he takes accountability for it if they were his words. Gruden and Allen worked together when they were both in Oakland from 1998 to 2001.
Jon Gruden discussed the article with his players this morning. Here are his comments to me on the offensive email: pic.twitter.com/7gkNd5Rzzs— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) October 8, 2021
Gruden told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday that the comments were not racially motivated.
Just spoke with @Raiders HC Jon Gruden. He apologized for his choice of words in describing NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith 10 years ago, but said there were no racial motivations, at all, for what he said. "I don't have a racist bone in my body."— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) October 8, 2021
Gruden’s alleged email was discovered during an investigation of more than 650,000 emails by those in and around the NFL after the recent workplace misconduct investigation of the Washington Football Team.