Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden came under fire Friday after a 2011 email with racist language toward NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith was uncovered and he admitted there was more expletive language directed at NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Gruden told ESPN there were more emails flagged by the NFL in the same year that included vulgar criticism of Goodell. Gruden was out of the league at the time after a stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was a broadcaster for ESPN.
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“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. 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. I was on a mission with high school football [in the Tampa, Florida, area] during that time, and there were a lot of parents who were scared about letting their kids play football. It just didn’t sit well with me,” he said.
Gruden said there may have been between five and seven emails that were flagged by the league. The NFL told the outlet it is considering discipline against Gruden, though he wasn’t in the league at the time.
The email about Smith was first obtained by The Wall Street Journal. The report said the email was sent to then-Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen in the midst of the lockout.
RAIDERS’ JON GRUDEN USED RACIST LANGUAGE IN 2011 EMAIL ABOUT NFLPA CHIEF DEMARUICE SMITH: REPORT
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Wall Street Journal during a review of emails regarding the Washington Football Team’s own workplace misconduct investigation the NFL was “informed of the existence of emails that raised issues beyond the scope of that investigation.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell added: “Over the past few months, at the commissioner’s direction, senior NFL executives reviewed the content of more than 650,000 emails, including this email which was sent to a club employee. Earlier this week, the executives presented a summary of that review to the commissioner and are sharing with Raiders executives emails pertaining to coach Gruden.”
Fritz Pollard Alliance executive director Rod Graves said in a statement the NFL and the Raiders need to respond to Gruden’s remarks with a “remedy commensurate with these painful words.”
“The insensitive remarks made by Jon Gruden about DeMaurice Smith are indicative of the racism that exists on many levels of professional sports,” Graves said. “Furthermore, it reveals that the journey for African Americans and other minorities in sports, is riddled with irrepressible mindsets at the highest level. It is our hope that the League and team ownership will address this matter with a remedy commensurate with these painful words. 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. When will it end?”
Raiders team owner Mark Davis also condemned Gruden.
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“The content of an email regarding DeMaurice Smith from Jon Gruden when he worked for ESPN 10 years ago is disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for. We were first made aware of the email late yesterday by a reporter and are reviewing it along with other materials provided to us today by the NFL. We are addressing the matter with Coach Gruden and will have no further comment at this time,” Davis said in a statement.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.