Jon Gruden Is Out As Raiders Head Coach Following Email Scandal

Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden. Photo: Chris Unger/Getty Images

Jon Gruden is no longer the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, following a scandal stemming from a range of offensive comments he made in his emails. On Monday, days after a racist comment Gruden made in a 2011 email about the Black leader of the NFL players’ union came to light, the New York Times reported that Gruden also frequently made misogynistic and homophobic remarks in emails sent between 2010 and 2018. Raiders owner Mark Davis met with Gruden on Monday night, and by the end of the meeting, Gruden was out, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported. Gruden, who was four years into a ten-year $100 million contract, later said in a statement that he resigned because he did not want to be a distraction:

Raiders special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia will take over as interim head coach.

Here’s how the new Times report summarized the additional offensive comments Gruden made in his emails:

He denounced the emergence of women as referees, the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem, according to emails reviewed by The New York Times.

Gruden’s messages were sent to Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington Football Team, and others, while he was working for ESPN as a color analyst during “Monday Night Football,” the sports network’s weekly prime-time telecast of N.F.L. games. In the emails, Gruden called the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football pussy” and said that Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, then the coach of the Rams, to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player chosen by the team in 2014.

The messages, including the racist one revealed last week, were among more than 650,000 emails uncovered during a league investigation into workplace misconduct at the franchise now known as the Washington Football Team. CNN reports that the emails were presented to Goodell last week.

The Times also reports that Gruden was critical of Goodell’s efforts to reduce concussions in the sport, “exchanged emails with Allen and other men that included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders,” and made transphobic comments, as well.

“Taken together, the emails provide an unvarnished look into the clubby culture of one N.F.L. circle of peers, where white male decision makers felt comfortable sharing pornographic images, deriding the league policies, and jocularly sharing homophobic language,” the Times noted.

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden had made a racist remark in a 2011 email to Allen in reference to NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who is Black. Gruden wrote in the email that “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.”

Per the Journal’s report:

A review of other emails in the same thread did not make it clear what prompted Gruden’s comment. The email chain initially began with several people discussing a TMZ story about Tiger Woods splitting with his longtime caddie. The discussion then shifted to NFL matters, although the context of the remarks was not clear. 

Gruden told the Journal he didn’t remember writing the email, but apologized for the language he used. “I’m really sorry,” Gruden said, adding that he was “upset” over the direction labor negotiations were headed at the time. He claimed that he sometimes uses the term “rubber lips” to refer to people who he thinks are lying, but that he went “too far” and “used a horrible way of explaining it.”

“I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years,” Gruden told the Journal. “I’m ashamed I insulted De Smith,” Gruden also told ESPN on Friday. “I never had a racial thought when I used it,” he added. “I’m embarrassed by what’s out there. I certainly never meant for it to sound that bad.”

DeMaurice Smith told the Journal that “this is not the first racist comment that I’ve heard and it probably will not be the last.”

“This is a thick-skin job for someone with dark skin, just like it always has been for many people who look like me and work in corporate America,” he continued. “You know people are sometimes saying things behind your back that are racist, just like you see people talk and write about you using thinly coded and racist language.”

After Sunday’s Raiders loss against the Chicago Bears, Gruden apologized again, insisting, “I’m not a racist” and “I can’t tell you how sick I am,” adding that “I don’t want to keep addressing it.”

Raiders players “offered defense, indifference and a no comment” regarding Gruden’s email after the game, ESPN reported.

“The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent, and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values,” an NFL spokesperson said in response to the report on Friday. “We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else.”

The NFL said it sent the emails to the Raiders on Friday, and was apparently waiting to see what the team would do after reviewing them. Over the weekend, neither the league nor the Raiders indicated that Gruden would be disciplined. On Monday night, reporters began hearing that Gruden would resign about an hour after the Times published its report on the coach’s other emails.

Rod Graves, the executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which works with the NFL to improve diversity in the league, said Sunday in a statement about Gruden’s racist comment that the organization hopes “the League and [Raiders] ownership will address this matter with a remedy commensurate with these painful words.”

Graves said that Gruden’s “insensitive remarks” are “indicative of the racism that exists on many levels of professional sports,” and reveal “that the journey for African Americans and other minorities in sports is riddled with irrepressible mindsets at the highest level.”

“This is yet another inflection point in a society fraught with cynical social blinders, absent of respect for the intellectual capacity and leadership of minorities,” he added. “When will it end?”

This post has been updated.

Jon Gruden Is Out of a Job Following Email Scandal