Jon Gruden’s 10-Year-Old Email Using Racist Trope in Reference to DeMaurice Smith Surfaces, and NFL Responds to ‘Appalling, Abhorrent’ Message

The Las Vegas Raiders are playing terrific football to begin the 2021 NFL season despite losing their first game of the year to the Los Angeles Chargers in a huge Monday Night Football showdown. However, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden made headlines of a different kind Friday when an old email surfaced.

The July 2011 email, which contained a racist trope commonly used in anti-Black imagery, was directed toward DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association. The NFL responded after the email was released, creating a sticky situation regarding Gruden and the Raiders franchise.

Jon Gruden’s email to DeMaurice Smith

The email from Gruden to then-Washington team president Bruce Allen was revealed Friday by Andrew Beaton of The Wall Street Journal and has been an enormous story since. Within it, Gruden used a racist trope to describe NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith:

“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.”

Jon Gruden’s email regarding DeMaurice Smith.

For some context, the NFL and its players were going back and forth regarding a lookout, and Gruden was unhappy with the way things were headed as Smith led the efforts. Per Beaton, “That day, the league’s owners voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement—but the players opted not to vote on it immediately, citing outstanding issues that the union was fighting to resolve.”

Gruden was working for ESPN as a broadcaster when he sent the email to Allen. Nonetheless, it is not a good look for the current head coach of the Raiders. After the email was released Friday, he apologized and said he didn’t recall sending the email.

The NFL is reportedly reviewing Gruden’s status with the Raiders and considering potential disciplinary actions.

NFL responds to ‘appalling, abhorrent’ message

Since Gruden’s email came out Friday, the NFL has begun its investigation of the matter.

The league has also responded via an official statement, condemning the language used in the email. Some punishment might be headed Gruden’s way due to his use of the racist trope, and Gruden stressed his remorse Friday after the email came to light.

Smith also posted a statement in response to the recent events:

Gruden said he has reached out to Smith, but the NFL can’t be pleased with how these events have unfolded.

What’s next for Gruden?

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden during the 2021 season.
Head coach Jon Gruden of the Las Vegas Raiders during the NFL game at Allegiant Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

To be honest, nobody knows right now. The NFL is reportedly reviewing the situation and considering disciplinary action, which could range from a verbal reprimand to a suspension of some sort — or even the possible firing of the Raiders head coach.

This email from 10 years back doesn’t bode well, and the NFL will look to quickly decide what to do with Gruden going forward, especially with the Raiders preparing for a game against the Chicago Bears this Sunday.

The Raiders also released a statement on the matter.

This situation is extremely fluid and will be updated as the NFL and the Raiders investigate further.

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