- The NFL is investigating Jon Gruden for a racist email he sent in 2011, according to a WSJ report.
- The Raiders coach said NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith had “lips the size of Michelin tires.”
- Smith, whom Gruden also called “Dumboriss,” is a Black man.
Jon Gruden is in hot water.
The Las Vegas Raiders head coach is under NFL investigation after a racist email he sent in 2011 resurfaced, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal’s Andrew Beaton.
In the decade-old email, Gruden — then an ESPN broadcaster — played into a racist stereotype about Black people while criticizing NFL Players’ Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, a Black man.
“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” he wrote in the email to then-Washington Football Team President Bruce Allen.
Gruden told The Wall Street Journal he’s “really sorry” about the comment, and added that he did not mean to lean on a race-based trope. He told Beaton that he was discontented with Smith’s handling of the league’s lockout at the time and that he was trying to characterize the NFLPA chief as a liar.
Gruden insisted that he was using the expression “rubber lips” to describe lying but took it “too far.”
“I was upset,” Gruden told The Wall Street Journal. “I used a horrible way of explaining it.”
“I don’t think he’s dumb. I don’t think he’s a liar,” he added. “I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”
Smith said Gruden’s remark was “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 told The Wall Street Journal. “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,” he added. “I’m sorry my family has to see something like this but I would rather they know. I will not let it define me.”
The NFL is “reviewing Gruden’s status with the Raiders for potential discipline,” a source told the WSJ. A statement from the NFL called the email’s contents “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.”