Las Vegas Raiders coach John Gruden sent an email that included racially insensitive language about the NFL Players Association executive director DeMaruice Smith in July 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal. The email was sent to the president of the Washington Football team when the NFL and its players were in the middle of trying to resolve a lockout. Gruden reportedly wrote that Smith had "lips the size of michellin tires."
Gruden was asked about the email and said that he's "really sorry" but didn't recall writing it. In 2011, Guden was working for ESPN broadcasting Monday Night Football Games. "That might not have been the best time of my life," Gruden said, referring to the lockout. per ESPN. "I vented a lot. ... I never felt we were getting the truth and honesty [in negotiations]." Gruden told ESPN that he used the term "rubber lips" to refer to someone who "I catch as lying ... he can't spit it out."
The email was revealed when the NFL was investigating workplace misconduct with the Washington Football Team. The league said it had reviewed 650,000 emails including one Gruden wrote to team president Bruce Allen. "The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL's values," the NFL said in a statement Friday afternoon. "We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else."
Smith told the Journal that racial comments towards him are nothing new. "This is not the first racist comment that I've heard and it probably will not be the last," Smith said. "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."
"I'm ashamed I insulted D. Smith," Gruden said, adding, "I never had a racial thought when I used it. ... I'm embarrassed by what's out there. I certainly never meant for it to sound that bad." Gruden has been the Raiders head coach since 2018. This is his second stint as the Raiders head coach with his first run being from 1998-2001.