A new report from the Wall Street Journal could lead to Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden finding himself in hot water. Back in 2011, when the NFL was in the midst of a lockout, Gruden, then an analyst for ESPN, used a racist trope to describe NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, who is Black.
“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” Gruden wrote in the email.
After saying he is “really sorry” the Journal, Gruden said that frustration with Smith over the direction he believed he was doing a poor job as the head of the players association amid the lockout.
Gruden said he had been angry at the time because of the lockout and didn’t trust the direction the players, led by Smith, were going in the negotiations. He said he has in the past referred to people he believes to be lying as “rubber lips” and that he took it “too far.”
“I was upset,” Gruden said. “I used a horrible way of explaining it.”
The NFL, which is reportedly weighing discipline for Gruden, condemned the email, calling it “appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values.” Smith issued up a response, saying that it’s “not the first racist comment that I’ve heard and that it probably will not be the last,” before saying that working in corporate America as a Black man requires “thick skin.”
“Racism like this comes from the fact that I’m at the same table as they are and they don’t think someone who looks like me belongs,” Smith said. “I’m sorry my family has to see something like this but I would rather they know. I will not let it define me.”
Gruden’s email was sent to former NFL executive Bruce Allen, who at the time served as the general manager of Washington. Smith’s contract is currently up with the players association, and he could see his tenure come to an end as early as Friday based on the results of a vote by all 32 team player representatives.