Report: Jon Gruden used racial trope in 2011 email regarding DeMaurice Smith

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Jon Gruden has a situation on his hands, unrelated to Sunday’s game against the Bears. Or anything else that may happen on the football field.

Via Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, the NFL has found a July 2011 email written by Gruden that uses a racial trope regarding NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith.

“Dumboriss [sic] Smith has lips the size of michellin [sic] tires,” Gruden wrote in the email, per the report.

Gruden told Beaton that he doesn’t recall writing the email, but Gruden apologized for the language in it.

“I’m really sorry,” Gruden said. “I was upset. I used a horrible way of explaining it. . . . I don’t think he’s dumb. I don’t think he’s a liar. I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”

Gruden also explained, per Beaton, that Gruden was angry over the lockout, and that he didn’t trust the direction in which the NFLPA was going. Gruden claimed that he has referred to liars as having “rubber lips” and that in this instance he took it “too far.”

“This is not the first racist comment that I’ve heard and it probably will not be the last.” Smith said in a statement issued to Beaton. “This is a thick skin job for someone with dark skin, just like it always has been for many people who look like me and work in corporate America. You know people are sometimes saying things behind your back that are racist just like you see people talk and write about you using thinly coded and racist language. . . .

“Racism like this comes from the fact that I’m at the same table as they are and they don’t think someone who looks like me belongs. I’m sorry my family has to see something like this but I would rather they know. I will not let it define me.”

The league reportedly became aware of the email during its investigation of the Washington Football Team. Gruden was communicating with former Washington CEO Bruce Allen, who worked with Gruden in Tampa and Oakland. In 2011, Gruden worked as the main analyst for Monday Night Football.

The WFT investigation resulted in a review of, per the report, more than 650,000 emails. Earlier this week, a summary of that review was presented to Commissioner Roger Goodell. The league said it will be sharing emails regarding Gruden to the Raiders.

“The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values,” the NFL said in a statement issued to Beaton. “We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else.”

It’s unclear whether and to what extent any discipline can be imposed by the league on Gruden, since the conduct occurred at a time when he wasn’t employed by the league. However, he was working for a broadcast position in an extremely high-profile position. Also, Beaton reports that the league is indeed reviewing the matter for potential discipline.

The Raiders could take action if they so choose. That ultimately would be an issue for owner Mark Davis to resolve.

33 responses to “Report: Jon Gruden used racial trope in 2011 email regarding DeMaurice Smith

  1. Sorry, Johnny…you have at least ONE racist bone in your body because I knew statements like that were off limits in the 1990s.

    But please…do go on.

  2. Kudos to Mr. Smith for taking the high road on this. I don’t know if I could do the same but, sadly, I’m sure he’s been dealing with things like this his whole life.
    And no, I don’t think Gruden meant it the way it came out, but it’s not a good look. He needs to address his team about this ASAP.

  3. supercharger says:
    October 8, 2021 at 4:58 pm
    He Hulk Hoganed himself.

    More like he Rachel Nicholsed himself.
    Hogan has no plausible deniability & could never claim “being taken out of context”.

  4. That was moronic for him to say, but can you discipline a guy for an email sent while he didn’t work for you ten years ago?
    This sounds like a keep him or fire him thing, but being disciplined for something like this ten years later feels odd.

  5. “I don’t think he’s a liar.”

    Gruden claimed that he has referred to liars as having “rubber lips” and that in this instance he took it “too far.”

    When you contradict yourself while attempting to apologize, how sincere can you be?

  6. I don’t believe gruden is a racist. But I do think he’s a friggin idiot for putting something like that in email when you know if it’s found it’s going to look the way it does, even if it’s not meant that way.

  7. You dig long enough and deep enough you can likely find wrongdoing by essentially anyone. Surely we all have said or done things in the past that are regrettable and far from who we are today. Everyone has a skeleton or two in the closet, no matter how lofty your perch. Those who wish to dig and expose these flaws need to be subjected to the same degree and depth of public scrutiny.

  8. One Adam 12…One Adam 12…see the man ,ANOTHER person who has offended the WOKE culture.

  9. Urban Meyer just sent Gruden a gigantic THANK YOU!!! card for taking the spotlight off him.

  10. What’s weird about this is that Gruden said he was angry when he sent the email. However, at the time Gruden sent the email he was not even coaching in the NFL. He was analyst for MNF. So Gruden literally had no dog in the fight. So what did Gruden have to be angry about.

  11. I think the real tragedy here is how Mr Smith must feel when this came out today. He must be living his life oblivious to the fact that this email was written about him and now there is a whole media circus about this. Think about his family.
    There are a whole bunch of comments here about Gruden, but not one feeling bad about Mr Smith.

  12. Historically, the Raiders have been one of the leading teams when it comes to embracing minorities in coaching and the front office, and as least as far as I know Al Davis presented himself as an anti-racist. Plus, I don’t know if there is a team with more black fans, at least casually and in consumerism and pop culture. Mark, I think, has mostly sought to carry on the legacy of the team and his dad. So, I think this (plus that big contract) puts him in a tough spot. I’m not saying the league should impose discipline, but I almost feel like if the league stepped in and did something that would sort of make things easier for Mark Davis to keep Gruden for awhile after whatever the punishment, or possibly have some sort of out on the contract.

  13. Denying that these comments weren’t racist is just stupid and insults people’s intelligence. That said, everyone has said things they regret, so apologizing like he did is the right thing to do. Hope Gruden personally called Smith to do
    so. If he says stuff like this again then screw him and he deserves to be fired.

  14. Hopefully DeMaurice Smith doesn’t care at all what Gruden said. They’re not friends or family, so it shouldn’t bother him.

  15. I normally do not write comments on this website, but I am compelled to bring sober thoughts concerning the matter. first, let me say that I am not a man of hate, but if another hates me and lay not his hands upon me I do not care. second, let us not pretend that only certain of us use words which are construed by others to be hateful, we all do it; only certain among us are held accountable. I have used these very words in describing black people and many other words that might be considered worse. I have also used words of offense to describe all other races in my lifetime. third, my observation is that we black people probably use words of offense more than any other group, even them that describe ourselves. fourth, Gruden spake these words many years ago. ought we to hold accountable each one the other for every thing we determine to be offensive in the distant past? of a truth we are fortunate that God almighty does not apply that very standard to those of us that believe. and who among us is righteous, that he does only good and sins not? take heed what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. and lastly, I am of the “baby boom” generation so I well remember the civil rights era and I have seen things that this generation has only heard about. some say that we ought to remember the past that we repeat it not; but I say we need not know what evil things were done to know that they ought not to be done, and there is no new thing under the sun. how soft have we become. “sticks and stones” people…

  16. Eh. I have a feeling there are more emails with racial overtones beyond this one. It would not surprise me one bit though if some of them never come out because it doesnt serve an agenda.

    I am not taking Gruden at face value here. What he said is hard to accept as an analogy for a liar. What does rubber tire sized lips have to do with tires? Actually, what does it have to do with a person? Its an odd statement to say the least. Its something I can picture an old man (in 80s or 90s) would say with racist overtones while not thinking he is saying anything wrong. Its wrong. I just tune out old people that are unfiltered when they speak. If I heard Gruden saying it, It would have definitely would have surprised me and without doubt I would assume it is meant to have racial overtones. His problem is far from just that, however. His excuse is just as bad. He felt completely comfortable sending his boss (at the time) this type of letter. Either he thinks his boss is also racist and would agree with it or he felt he was untouchable and therefore sent an email voicing his opinion. No matter what his reasoning,….that is some serious brass balls to send such an email to your employer.

  17. 650,000 emails???
    For one team??? For the last 20 years that averages out to 89 emails every day,,,My team should not get a pass on this because of other damaging information in these emails and not only to us but to those involved with the NFL,,,this could get messy

  18. Just like Urban Meyer,Gruden’s apologies are lame,and only making it worse with every attempt. He can’t spin this. What he said was racist,and pretty bad.

  19. Why was this email even made public? It had nothing to do with the issues being investigated in Washington and occurred a decade ago when Gruden was not even in the NFL at the time.

    Is any person who emailed the Washington front office in any capacity in the past 10 years subject to having their personal emails released to the media?

  20. Surprise unconnected timing for this to be leaked or was it meant to be used as cover and sympathy for Smith as the 12 year executive director of the NFL Players Association as the NFLPA’s executive committee voted three days ago to determine if he should be allowed to remain in the job. If meant as cover, who for? The vote was reported as 7-7 (now all 32 team reps have voted early today 22-10). Who released it exactly? Smith’s team (for sympathy), or the NFL? Clearly the NFL has benefitted from Smith’s incompetence. The players on the other hand have not. And yes, Smith has lied.

  21. jerryjonessaidwhat says:
    October 8, 2021 at 7:08 pm
    Totally inappropriate of Gruden, but why is it coming to light 10 yrs later
    If you read the article you’ll know why its coming out ten years later.

  22. It makes no difference how long ago the email was written, nor does it matter where Gruden was employed when he wrote it.
    What does matter is that the NFL currently employs a man who will casually swing toward racist comments— at least.

    Gruden has given the NFL two choices:

    1. Let it slide. Show every Black fan, employee, player, and coach that the NFL condones such behavior and sentiment.
    2. Punishment. A punishment of half-measure would be more harmful to the NFL than no punishment at all.

    Decency and good business may align on this one.

  23. It was an email with Bruce Allen. Apparently he felt comfortable saying this sort of stuff with Allen.

    This will get bigger. This is not one email.

  24. tavisteelersfan says:

    It was an email with Bruce Allen. Apparently he felt comfortable saying this sort of stuff with Allen.


    Bingo! Excellent observation, Tavis.

  25. dejadoh says:
    October 9, 2021 at 1:23 am
    Surprise unconnected timing for this to be leaked or was it meant to be used as cover and sympathy for Smith as the 12 year executive director of the NFL Players Association as the NFLPA’s executive committee voted three days ago to determine if he should be allowed to remain in the job. If meant as cover, who for?

    Meyer, not a article about him today!

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