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Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden Under Fire For ‘Racist’ Old Email: Report
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 14: Head coach Jon Gruden of the Las Vegas Raiders exits the field during a preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks at Allegiant Stadium on August 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated the Seahawks 20-7. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
Chris Unger/Getty Images

Las Vegas Raiders head coach and former ESPN broadcaster Jon Gruden is dealing with the fallout from a Wall Street Journal report detailing an email he sent in 2011 in which he used a “racial trope.”

According to the WSJ, Gruden sent an email regarding the executive director of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith. 

On July 21, 2011, NFL players had decided not to vote on a new collective bargaining agreement, with the threat of a lockout for the upcoming season on the horizon. Gruden, out of coaching and working as an analyst for Monday Night Football at the time, sent an email to the president of the Washington football team.  

“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” Gruden wrote, according to the WSJ. 

The NFL quickly condemned the 2011 email in a statement on Friday.

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

Gruden has apologized for the email, saying that he was upset at the time of the email as he didn’t like how the players were going about the negotiations. 

“I was upset,” Gruden said. “I used a horrible way of explaining it.” 

“I don’t think he’s dumb. I don’t think he’s a liar,” Gruden said. “I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.” 

Gruden also said that he referred to people in the past that he believed to be lying as “rubber lips.” 

Smith, who is black, called the email from Gruden “racist.”

“This is not the first racist comment that I’ve heard and it probably will not be the last,” Smith told the Journal. “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,” Smith said. “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 NFL has been reviewing more than 650,000 emails over the past few months after becoming aware of such emails during their investigation of workplace misconduct inside the Washington Football Team organization. 

Raiders owner Mark Davis called the email “disturbing” in a statement and said the organization is reviewing the matter.

“The content of an email regarding DeMaurice Smith from Jon Gruden when he worked for ESPN 10 years ago is disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for. We were first made aware of the email late yesterday by a reporter and are reviewing it along with other materials provided to us today by the NFL,” Davis said in a statement. “We are addressing the matter with Coach Gruden and will have no further comment at this time.” 

Gruden got back into coaching in 2018 when he signed a 10-year, $100 million contract to coach the Raiders. His first stint with the Raiders came from 1998-2001, before leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title in 2002.

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to

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