There are still Raiders fans in the Bay Area even if they are just the long-distance supporters of a Las Vegas team now. And so it remains local news that the Raiders head coach has been shown to be a gross human being, and that revelation led to his extremely quick resignation on Monday.
Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who first coached the team from 1998 to 2001 and returned as head coach while they were still in Oakland in 2018 after years as a TV sports analyst, resigned abruptly Monday evening and issued an apology for a series of decade-old emails that surfaced containing a multitude of offensive statements. The emails found him denigrating a Black union head, women referees, league president Roger Goodell, and openly gay football players — the first one of whom to actually play in the NFL, Carl Nassib, plays for the Raiders.
The revelations began with a 2011 email surfaced by the Wall Street Journal on Monday and confirmed by the New York Times. In it, Gruden referred to DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association union, in racist terms, telling then coach of the Washington Football Team, Bruce Allen, "Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin [sic] tires."
Goodell directed league executives to do an audit of 650,000 internal emails this summer, stemming from a harassment and workplace misconduct case involving the Washington team, and the Gruden email was one that surfaced. It appears it was shared with the Journal just hours before a vote was to take place confirming a fifth term as union executive director for Smith — who had been facing unusually strong opposition in the wake of some team representatives believing he had been too deferential to the league during the pandemic.
But the offensive remarks from Gruden don't end there, and the New York Times reports on dozens of other emails found from when Gruden was working as an ESPN analyst in the last decade, after his Super Bowl-winning stint as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In other emails, Gruden reportedly referred to Goodell multiple times as a "faggot" and a "clueless anti football pussy." Gruden was incensed by the league making efforts to reduce concussions among players, and he reportedly slammed Goodell for pressuring then-coach of the Rams, Jeff Fisher, to draft openly gay player Michael Sam in 2014. (Sam was ultimately cut in the preseason, and went on to play briefly in the Canadian Football League before retiring.)
Gruden was also apparently pissed off when Black players began kneeling in protest during the national anthem. And he was no fan of Barack Obama during the 2012 election, and he reportedly called then-VP Joe Biden a "nervous clueless pussy."
As all of this was being reported on Monday, NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy issued a statement saying, "The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the N.F.L.’s values."
And by Monday evening, the Raiders tweeted a statement from Gruden, saying, "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
Some on social media are referring to this situation as being the result of the "cancel culture mob," but many others, including Black NFL players, are celebrating the removal of Gruden.
ESPN radio host and former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson pulled no punches in calling Gruden a "used car salesman," and saying of Gruden Tuesday, "He's just always been a fraud to me."
USA Today's sports blog For the Win suggests that it's unfortunate that Nassib will now have to answer questions about Gruden's ignorance. And, they write, this may all just be for show anyway, with the ingrained culture of the NFL being what it is.
"The NFL is good at this: Strenuously reacting in public to a problem that it probably could not deal with even if it wanted to," For the Win says.
But, perhaps this is a sign of some kind of evolution, that these emails were even leaked at all — and Yahoo Sports argues that the case of Gruden is exactly why Nassib's courage in coming out is so important, even though many fans rushed to say it wasn't, and it was just a "distraction."
Assistant Coach Rich Bisaccia has been elevated to Acting Head Coach of the Raiders.
Top image: Former head coach John Gruden of the Las Vegas Raiders reacts on the sideline during a game against the Chicago Bears at Allegiant Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)