Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden apologized Sunday after it was revealed in a Friday report from The Wall Street Journal that he used a racial trope in a 2011 email to describe NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith.
“All I can say is that I’m not a racist,” Gruden said following the Raiders’ 20-9 loss to the Chicago Bears. “I can’t tell you how sick I am. I apologize again to De Smith, but I feel good about who I am and what I’ve done my entire life. I apologize for the insensitive remarks. I had no racial intentions with those remarks at all. But… yes, they can… I’m not like that at all. I apologize but I don’t want to keep addressing it.”
On Friday, The Journal reported that Gruden sent an email to then-Washington president Bruce Allen during the 2011 lockout, in which he wrote, “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” referring to Smith, who is Black.
The NFL and Raiders owner Mark Davis released statements Friday afternoon condemning Gruden’s comments. Gruden told reporters Sunday that he has not been in contact with the league office regarding the email, but “we will see what happens here in the next few days.”
When asked if he expects something to happen, Gruden said: “I’m not going to answer all these questions today. I think I’ve addressed it already. I can’t remember a lot of the things that transpired 10 or 12 years ago, but I stand here in front of everybody apologizing. I don’t have an ounce of racism in me. I’m a guy that takes pride in leading people together, and I will continue to do that for the rest of my life. Again, I apologize to De Smith and anybody out there that I have offended.”
Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, who is Black, told reporters that Gruden addressed the team prior to The Journal’s report.
“He had a team meeting and laid everything out (on) how the situation had occurred and things like that,” Jacobs said. “I’ve been around this guy for three years now. I’ve never felt a certain type of way about him. He’s never rubbed me a certain way like that type of way. What he said was what he said at the end of the day, too. But I definitely trust him — It was 10 years ago — people grow.”
Raiders defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, who is Black, declined to comment on the situation when asked by reporters after the game.
Quarterback Derek Carr told reporters that Gruden was “honest” and “up front” when discussing the email with the team and that Gruden’s message was to learn from his mistake.
The Raiders (3-2) travel to face the Denver Broncos in Week 6.