Jon Gruden Addresses Racist Remark

Says he's apologized to DeMaurice Smith over 2011 comment
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 11, 2021 12:42 AM CDT
Jon Gruden Addresses Racist Remark
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden speaks on his headset during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Jon Gruden again said he is not a racist after his Las Vegas Raiders lost their first game since the revelation of the head coach's 2011 racial remark about players’ union leader DeMaurice Smith. Gruden apologized for his “insensitive remarks” when asked about the decade-old emails following the Raiders' 20-9 loss to the Chicago Bears, the AP reports. A Wall Street Journal story last week noted that Gruden, then working for ESPN, referred in a racist way to Smith’s facial features in an email. ("Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.") “I’m not a racist,” Gruden said Sunday. “I can’t tell you how sick I am. I apologize again to D Smith, but I feel good about who I am and what I’ve done my entire life. ... I had no racial intention with those remarks at all. I’m not like that at all. I apologize. I don’t want to keep addressing it.”

Gruden ended his news conference after a series of questions about the emails and his behavior. He said he has not been contacted by the NFL about the remark, but “we'll see what happens here in the next few days.” “I’m not going to answer all these questions today,” Gruden said. “I think I’ve addressed it already. I can’t remember a lot of the things that transpired 10 or 12 years ago, but I stand here in front of everybody apologizing. I know I don’t have an ounce of racism in me. I’m a guy that takes pride in leading people together, and I’ll continue to do that for the rest of my life.” The leader of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a watchdog group that champions diversity in the NFL, says Gruden's remark about Smith is indicative of racism throughout professional sports. Rod Graves, the Alliance’s executive director, also hinted at seeking discipline for Gruden.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said he was among many players who were “shocked” to hear about Gruden’s comment a decade ago. Carr said Gruden addressed the issue and gave his side of the story in a team meeting the morning before the story broke. “He was honest,” Carr said. “He was up-front with it, and us as a team were like, ‘Yeah, coach, it was 10 years ago. We love you, man. We’ve got your back.’" The NFL is looking into the matter, and two people familiar with that probe told the AP that disciplinary action is possible, though one person said a suspension is doubtful. Raiders owner Mark Davis said Friday in a statement that Gruden’s email does not reflect the team’s standards, and that the organization is reviewing the matter. Gruden tells ESPN he also referred to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in a vulgar fashion in emails around the same time that were not printed by the Journal. (More Jon Gruden stories.)

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