The NFL never lacks for off the field drama.
But so far in 2021, all the scandals revolved around coaches.
And now a Super Bowl winning coach may lose his job over this racist email.
Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden found himself in hot water after The Wall Street Journal unearthed a 2011 email Gruden sent an NFL team executive during a contentious collective bargaining agreement negotiation between the league and the NFL Players Association.
Gruden, who was the lead analyst on Monday Night Football at the time, blasted NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith with language many saw as racist toward black people by mocking the size of Smith’s lips.
“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin [sic] tires,” Gruden wrote.
When contacted by The Wall Street Journal Gruden apologized.
“I’m really sorry,” Gruden stated.
“I was upset,” Gruden added. “I used a horrible way of explaining it.”
Gruden told The Journal that when he thinks people are lying, he says they have “rubber lips,” but that he took the expression “too far” in the email.
The Raiders coach claimed he did not think Smith was dumb or a liar and professed his innocence from charges of racism.
“I don’t think he’s dumb. I don’t think he’s a liar,” Gruden added. “I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”
The NFL released a virtue signaling statement condemning Gruden’s 2011 email.
“The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent, and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values” the NFL’s statement read. “We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else.”
The Raiders also released a statement explaining that they were dealing with the matter internally and would have no further comment.
“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,” Raiders owner Mark Davis explained. “We are addressing the matter with Coach Gruden and will have no further comment at this time.”
The timing of the story was somewhat suspicious.
It dropped on the same day NFL players representatives voted on whether they wanted to keep Smith in this job.
Smith struck a collective bargaining agreement with the league that included the controversial provision to expand the regular season to 17 games.
Players were furious and the vote to ratify the agreement was the closest in history.
After The Journal published the story, 22 player reps – the bare minimum necessary – voted to keep Smith in the job for only one more year.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any new developments in this ongoing story.