LAS VEGAS - Jon Gruden resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after 2018 emails he sent before being hired contained racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments — and the sports world was quick to react.
In a statement released Monday night, 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."
The announcement came after The New York Times reported that Gruden frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language directed at Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the NFL.
Gruden was in the fourth year of a 10-year, $100 million contract he signed with the Raiders in 2018. The downfall began on Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden used a racist term to describe NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email to former Washington executive Bruce Allen.
The emails were discovered in a workplace misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team but ended up costing Gruden his job when they also showed Gruden denounced the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem among other issues.
Head coach John Gruden of the Las Vegas Raiders reacts on the sideline during a game against the Chicago Bears at Allegiant Stadium on Oct. 10, 2021, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Gruden apologized for his "insensitive remarks" about Smith, saying they were made out of frustration over the 2011 lockout. But the latest emails sent from between 2011-18 when Gruden was an analyst for ESPN show his use of derogatory language went well beyond that.
A league source confirmed the accuracy of the emails to the Associated Press and said they were sent to the Raiders last week.
Following the news, many in the sports world reacted on social media:
"Coach Gruden didn’t have a bad moment, but a 7 yr history of bad moments," tweeted Hall of Famer and analyst Shannon Sharpe. "Owner Marc Davis did the right thing and he’s out from under that 100 mil dollar contract. What former/current players,coaches and colleagues will stand up for offended groups like the did for Coach Gruden?"
"You can’t be racist, homophobic and misogynistic. You shouldn’t be any of them," free-agent quarterback and ESPN college football analyst Robert Griffin III wrote on Twitter.
"If you're bothered that a misogynist homophobic racist like Gruden got held accountable, that's a you problem," Michael Kist, an executive producer at SB Nation, wrote on Twitter.
"Sad thing is, yeah, Gruden is rightfully out of a job, but he's not at all the only person in the league who thinks and talks that way. That's why he felt so comfortable communicating like that," Mike Jones, NFL reporter for USA Today, said.
"If Gruden really said those things, I’ll be greatly disappointed… and forever say that’s ridiculous. This is something we’ve never seen in NFL media from a coach like him.. with a perfect track record with his players," Raider Cody tweeted, who hosts the "Raider Cody Fan Podcast."
"Do I believe Jon Gruden just abruptly walked away from $50 million, or whatever was left on the contract?
I do not. There were lawyers," Andrew Brandt, executive director of Villanova’s Moorad Center for Sports Law, wrote on Twitter.
"If you think about it, why would Jon Gruden have any qualms about sending slur-filled emails to Bruce Allen at his work account when the address was something like @redskins.com?" J.A. Adande, director of sports journalism at Northwestern University, tweeted.
Raiders owner Mark Davis said last week that the email about Smith was "disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for" and said the team was reviewing the additional emails. Davis issued a statement Monday saying only that he accepted Gruden's resignation.
The Times reported that Gruden used a gay slur to insult Goodell and said he was "clueless" and "anti-football." He also said Goodell shouldn’t have pressured the Rams to draft "queers," a reference to Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.
Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay in June and is the first openly gay player to appear in an NFL game.
In a 2017 email, the Times said Gruden responded to a sexist meme of a female official by saying: "Nice job roger."
The paper also said Gruden criticized Goodell and the NFL league for trying to reduce concussions and said that Eric Reid, a player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired.
The newspaper said Gruden also mocked an article in 2017 about players calling on Goodell to support their efforts promoting racial equality and criminal justice reform.
"He needs to hide in his concussion protocol tent," Gruden wrote.
Gruden and Allen have a long relationship, having worked together in Oakland and Tampa Bay. The emails between the two and other men included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders.
Gruden also criticized President Barack Obama during his re-election campaign in 2012, and then-vice president Joe Biden.
Smith said earlier Monday that he appreciates that Gruden reached out to him following the initial report, but that the email is evidence that the fight against racism is ongoing.
"But make no mistake, the news is not about what is said in our private conversation, but what else is said by people who never thought they would be exposed and how they are going to be held to account," Smith wrote in a Twitter thread.
Gruden’s comments to Allen about Smith came during the 2011 lockout of the players by the NFL. Gruden told the Wall Street Journal he was angry about the lockout during labor negotiations and he didn’t trust the direction the union was taking.
"Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires," Gruden wrote in the email reviewed by the newspaper.
Davis had been trying to hire Gruden almost since he took charge following the death of his father, Al, in 2011. He finally got his prize in 2018 when Gruden agreed to leave ESPN and return to the sideline with a 10-year contract. Gruden had revived the Raiders in is first stint in 1998-2001 and then beat them in the Super Bowl the following season after he was traded to Tampa Bay for a boatload of draft picks.
Gruden has a 117-112 career record but hasn’t won a playoff game since the Super Bowl victory over the Raiders in the 2002 season.
Raiders special teams and assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia is taking over on an interim basis.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. It was reported from Cincinnati.