Jon Gruden, head coach for the Las Vegas Raiders, has resigned his position after a string of emails dating back years in which he used racist, anti-gay, and misogynistic language.
The Raiders made headlines around the world when one of its players, Carl Nassib, came out earlier this year.
Gruden, a widely-respected coach, won the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2002 season, among other career highlights. He’s also known for his presenting work with ESPN.
The New York Times broke the story.
It said the emails emerged after the NFL conducted a review of around 650,000 emails following allegations of workplace misconduct and harassment at the Washington Football Team (the team formally known under a slur for indigenous Americans).
In one email, sent in 2011, Gruden criticized the NFL Players’ Union Chief, DeMaurice Smith, who is Black, using racist stereotypes.
Gruden, at the time, was working for ESPN on Monday Night Football (he joined the Raiders on a ten-year contract in 2018).
In other emails, sent to Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington Football Team, Gruden called the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “faggot” and a “clueless anti-football pussy”.
He also said that Goodell should not have pressured the coach of the Rams, Jeff Fisher, to draft “queers”. In 2014, the Rams drafted Michael Sam, the first out gay player to be drafted to an NFL team.
Gruden also used derogatory language in his criticism of other officials and sports journalists. In one email, he mocked Caitlyn Jenner over her transition.
Gruden also exchanged photos to Allen, and others, which had photos of women, including Washington team cheerleaders, only wearing bikini bottoms.
Gruden also strayed into politics, criticizing President Obama and calling Joe Biden a “nervous clueless pussy.”
The emails cover the period 2011-2018. Allen, the recipient of many of the emails, was fired by the Washington Football Team in 2019 following a decade of disappointing results from the team.
In a statement posted to Twitter by the Raiders, Gruden said, “I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) October 12, 2021
In a further tweet, Raiders owner Mark Davis said, “I have accepted Jon Gruden’s resignation as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.”
ESPN, which employed Gruden for a period when several of the emails were sent, issued a statement saying, “The comments are clearly repugnant under any circumstance.”
When player Carl Nassib came out as gay earlier this year, Gruden told ESPN he welcomed the announcement, saying, “I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great.”
Nassib has made no public comment about Gruden’s resignation.
Among those to comment on Gruden’s departure is Ryan Russell, who in 2019 became the first NFL player to come out as bisexual.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to Carl Nassib, the countless closeted NFL players, female staff, black people, and people of color who have and continue to work in environments where they feel unwelcome and unwanted. The NFL will change because you all deserve better.”
My thoughts and prayers go out to Carl Nassib, the countless closeted NFL players, female staff, black people, and people of color who have and continue to work in environments where they feel unwelcome and unwanted. The NFL will change because you all deserve better.
— R.K. Russell (@RKRelentless) October 12, 2021