In The Know

NFL coach Gruden takes the field despite discovery of offensive email

Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden was on the sidelines Sunday despite the recent discovery of a racially insensitive email he sent in 2011.

Gruden has been under fire since The Wall Street Journal reported last week that he sent an email in 2011, when he was working as an ESPN broadcaster, to an NFL coach that used racist language to describe NFL Players Association Director DeMaurice Smith.

“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” Gruden wrote to Bruce Allen, who was the coach of the NFL franchise now known as the Washington Football Team, according to the Journal.

The email in question was sent amid a tense moment between NFL team owners and their players, who were at a crossroads regarding a collective bargaining agreement that was still being negotiated during a months-long lockout.

Gruden has since apologized for the email, telling the Journal, “I’m really sorry.”

He said he does not remember writing the message and that at the time he was upset about how the player negotiations were being handled, adding, “I used a horrible way of explaining it.”

He also said he used the phrase “rubber lips” in the past when he thought people were not being truthful but noted, “I don’t have a racial bone in my body.”

The coach also said he did not think Smith was “dumb” or a “liar.”

A source familiar with the matter told the Journal that the league may levy a punishment against Gruden in the coming days. The league has reportedly talked with Raiders management to decide if the coach will face a penalty for the email.

Raiders owner Mark Davis reacted the unearthed email on Friday, saying the content of the message “is disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for.”

“We are addressing the matter with Coach Gruden and will have no further comment at this time,” he added.

The NFL last week said the email “denigrating” Smith was “appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values.”

The Hill reached out to the Raiders, NFL and the NFL Players Association for comment on Gruden taking the field on Sunday.

Smith, in a statement to The Hill last week, said he was sorry that his family had to read the racist language in the email but said he would prefer that they are aware of it.

“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,” Smith said.

“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,” he added.

Gruden’s email from 2011 was discovered through an investigation by the NFL, which is looking into more than 650,000 emails that were brought to light during a separate probe into workplace misconduct within the Washington Football Team, according to the Journal.

The NFL said it was “informed of the existence of emails that raised issues beyond the scope of that investigation,” according to the Journal.


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