The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Raiders coach Jon Gruden made racist statement in an email regarding NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith.
The newspaper reported the email was sent to then-Washington Football Team President Bruce Allen 10 years ago when Gruden was working for ESPN as a Monday Night Football analyst.
It was made in the midst of the players being locked out by the owners for four months in 2011.
In a statement, team owner Mark Davis said, “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.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, “The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values. We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else.”
Gruden made racist statement during player lockout
The Wall Street Journal reported the comment came during the lockout of players by the NFL in 2011. Gruden was reportedly angry about the lockout and told the newspaper he “was sorry” for the the contents of the email.
The email surfaced during a review of workplace misconduct by the Washington Football Team. McCarthy said senior NFL executives reviewed the content of more than 650,000 emails, which included the email from Gruden to Allen, during an investigation of workplace misconduct by the Washington Football Team.
Gruden wrote in the email that, “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michelin tires.”
Smith responded via twitter, stating, “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. 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. 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. 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 told the Journal he was angry about the lockout and how the players were negotiating during the process. The player’s negotiations were led by Smith. The newspaper said Gruden had said in the past he referred to people he believes to be lying as having “rubber lips.”
“I was upset,” Gruden told the Journal. “I used a horrible way of explaining it. … I don’t think he’s dumb. I don’t think he’s a liar. I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”
Smith has been the head of the NFL Player’s Association for 12 years. In 2011, the players and owners were involved in labor negotiations that resulted in the owners locking out the players for four months.