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Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden Resigns After Report Uncovers Homophobic And Sexist Emails

Then-head coach Jon Gruden of the Las Vegas Raiders reacts during a game against the Chicago Bears at Allegiant Stadium on October 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Tonight the New York Times published a report saying that Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had spent years sending emails with homophobic and sexist remarks with his friend, then-Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen. The news came a few days after the Wall Street Journal reported that, in 2011, Gruden had sent a racist email to Allen about DeMaurice Smith, president of the NFL players union. Within an hour of the Times report being published, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that Gruden was resigning. Rich Bisaccia will serve as interim head coach of the Raiders.

The initial WSJ report, by Andrew Beaton, focused on 2011, when the NFL was negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement. At the time, Gruden was between coaching gigs and working as an analyst on ESPN's Monday Night Football. Per Beaton, Gruden wrote this of the NFLPA president: “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires."

In a response to Beaton's request for comment, Gruden said he did not have a “racial bone” in his body, whatever that means. He coached the Raiders on Sunday, in a game that they lost to the Bears, 20-9. That same day, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that Gruden said he had used a "vulgar description" for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and had "harsh words for a handful of team owners" in emails. The language was not specified beyond that. Gruden said that he was "in a bad frame of mind at the time." It sounded like he was trying to get ahead of something, but it was not clear what.

That became clear Monday night with the NYT report, which covered "numerous emails during a seven-year period ending in early 2018." Here is what is in some of those emails, per the Times:

In the emails, Gruden called the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football pussy” and said that Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, then the coach of the Rams, to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player chosen by the team in 2014.[...]

In numerous emails during a seven-year period ending in early 2018, Gruden criticized Goodell and the 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.[...]

Gruden exchanged emails with Allen and other men that included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders.


Gruden also criticized President Obama during his re-election campaign in 2012, as well as then-vice president Joe Biden, whom Gruden called a “nervous clueless pussy.” He used similar words to describe Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the N.F.L. Players Association.

The NYT does not say to whom specific emails were addressed, but does provide a few examples of people they included: Bruce Allen; Hooters co-founder Ed Droste; Outback Bowl president and CEO Jim McVay; and Nick Reader, the founder of a Tampa-based fried chicken franchise.

It is because of Allen—as well as the Washington Football Team's long history of denigrating female employees—that these emails are becoming public. After reports in the Washington Post of sexual harassment and verbal abuse toward female employees within the organization, the secret creation of lewd videos of the team's cheerleaders, and a conduct policy that restricted the movement of women in the building, the NFL said it would launch an internal investigation of the team. That investigation included the league reviewing hundreds of thousands of emails and appears to have turned up the Gruden communications, which he sent using his personal email address to Allen's work email. According to the NYT, the Raiders received "some of the email" written by Gruden last week. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Raiders owner Mark Davis went to the team facility today and met with Gruden before he resigned.

Defector staff writer Kalyn Kahler contributed to this report.

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