Jon Gruden has resigned as Las Vegas Raiders head coach after further emails emerged in which he used misogynistic and homophobic language.
“I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction,” Gruden said in a statement on Monday night. “Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
Gruden had previously said he didn’t have “a blade of racism” in his body after the Wall Street Journal reported last week that he had described NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who is Black, as having “lips the size of michellin tires” in an email 10 years ago. Gruden said he regularly used the phrase “rubber lips” to describe anyone he considered a liar.
On Monday, the New York Times reviewed further emails which Gruden sent to Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington Football Team, during his time as an ESPN analyst. In the emails, Gruden called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football pussy”. He also complained that Goodell had pressured then St Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher to draft “queers” after the team selected Michael Sam, who is gay, in the 2014 NFL draft. This year, Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib became the first active gay NFL player to come out as gay. At the time, Gruden told ESPN: “I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great.”
In other emails, Gruden said Eric Reid, one of the first players to kneel alongside Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem in protest at police brutality, should be fired; called then Vice-President Joe Biden a “nervous clueless pussy”; and exchanged photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms.
After Sunday’s game, and before Monday’s emails became public, Raiders players were generally supportive of Gruden, who joined the team on a 10-year, $100m contract in 2018.
“He’s never rubbed me a certain way, that type of way,” said running back Josh Jacobs, who is Black. “I mean, what he said is what he said at the end of the day too. But I mean, I definitely trust him. I mean, it was 10 years ago. People grow.” However, when Raiders pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue was asked how Black players on the team felt about the emails he replied: “No comment”.
Gruden is known for his pugnacious, outspoken personality and won the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2002 season. He later became a mainstay in the ESPN commentary booth before resuming his coaching career with the Raiders in 2018. The Raiders got off to an encouraging start this season, although they reached the playoffs just once since 2003. The Raiders said on Monday night that Rich Bisaccia will serve as interim head coach after Gruden’s departure.