After a report from the Wall Street Journal uncovered Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden using racist language toward NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith in 2011, Gruden issued an apology, stating he is “really sorry” and “used a horrible way of explaining” a comment about Smith’s lips. Just days later, additional emails have been uncovered by Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman of The New York Times and they are of a troubling nature, as well.
The report indicates Gruden “casually and frequently unleashed misogynistic and homophobic language over several years to denigrate people around the game and to mock some of the league’s momentous changes.” An example of that highly inappropriate and indefensible language was shared in reference to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and former Missouri Tigers star Michael Sam.
In the emails, Gruden called the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “f*****” and a “clueless anti football p*ssy” 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 emails point to Gruden’s apparent regular use of homophobic slurs, which is particularly notable given he is currently coaching the NFL’s first active player to come out as gay in Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib. Gruden also reportedly indicated that Eric Reid should be fired following his demonstrations during the national anthem. His comments were also not limited to the NFL, as he reportedly shared inappropriate sentiment about former President Barack Obama and current President and then-vice president Joe Biden.
Gruden also criticized President Obama during his re-election campaign in 2012, as well as then-vice president Joe Biden, whom Gruden called a “nervous clueless p*ssy.” He used similar words to describe Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association.
At the very least, Gruden’s comments put his job in significant jeopardy, even with a massive contract to lead the Raiders organization on the field. While his words in these emails were uttered when he was an ESPN analyst and not a representative of the Raiders, the mounting evidence is impossible to ignore or excuse. Gruden’s previous apology certainly won’t cover the additional revelations here and, in addition, it is possible there is even more to parse as his emails continue to be investigated by the league and team.