Homophobic emails by former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden that became public this month were “unfortunate,” Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL, said on Wednesday.
Speaking during an online event through Augusta University, Sam pointed to the fact that Carl Nassib, the first NFL player to make an active roster and come out as gay, was a player of Gruden’s, USA Today reported.
Sam questioned aloud during the event whether his team was actually supporting Nassib since he came out.
“So it almost seems like you know how the whole team would rally around [Nassib], but again, it almost seems like it was just for show. So are you really a part of it, or are you not?” Sam said before adding that if individuals were not accepting of the LGBTQ community, “you need to find another profession.’’
Earlier this week, Gruden resigned as the head coach for the Raiders after reports by both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times resurfaced emails that Gruden previously sent in which he used derogatory, anti-Black rhetoric to refer to the head of the NFL Players Association, homophobic comments against Sam and sexist language when discussing several women, including cheerleaders.
Gruden, who at the time was working at ESPN, allegedly referenced Sam in one of his emails, reportedly saying in one email that Rams coach Jeff Fisher should not have been pressed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to draft “queers,” according to the Times.
The Journal reported last week that an email from 2011 showed Gruden allegedly using a racial trope to describe NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, saying “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.”
Gruden later apologized for those remarks in the 2011 email, claiming he did not remember writing those comments but had claimed that he used “rubber lips” to describe people he believed were lying.
“I’m really sorry,” he told the Journal.
“I don’t have a racial bone in my body,” Gruden added.
“They will definitely crack down on bigotry like that,’’ Sam said, referring to the NFL, during the online event on Wednesday.