Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden found himself at the center of controversy this week after an email he sent to then-Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen in 2011 leaked out.
The email in question was sent as the NFL and NFLPA were in the process of trying to end a lockout and was in reference to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.
“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of Michelin tires,” Gruden wrote in the email provided to Wall Street Journal reporter Andrew Beaton.
Raiders owner Mark Davis responded to the controversy immediately.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) October 8, 2021
Renowned Raiders fan and Portland Trail Blazers star, Damian Lillard, also couldn’t help but weigh in on the controversy.
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) October 8, 2021
Gruden, for his part, has attempted to do damage control – arguably making the situation even worse.
“That might not have been the best time of my life,” he said in a statement to ESPN. “I vented a lot. I never felt we were getting the truth and honesty. I’m ashamed I insulted De Smith. I never had a racial thought when I used it. I’m embarrassed by what’s out there. I certainly never meant for it to sound that bad.”
Gruden then further added that he is “really, really sorry” for his criticism of Smith and that the phrase “rubber lips” was used to “refer to a guy I catch as lying … he can’t spit it out.”
Shortly after the emails leaked out, talk began on social media regarding a Gruden suspension.
Jon Gruden about to be suspended the whole season and the Raiders will miss the playoffs again
— Dale (@DaleARoyer) October 8, 2021
What opinion do you have on the WSJ report that Jon Gruden used highly questionable language in documented discussion about NFLPA head, D Smith?
Will he be fined, suspended or fired? If the latter — for cause?
— Jo Yan (@fini_en) October 8, 2021
So Jon gruden suspended or nah?
— Q. (@_HAYZEUS) October 8, 2021
The NFL has come out and said that it will investigate the situation, but no commitment to any sort of punishment was made.
Somehow, in one fatal swoop, Gruden has taken all of the attention away from the other NFL storyline that has been dominating headlines over the past week.
Gruden has admittedly done some zany stuff in the past. Using a pair of panties as a facemask is certainly pretty out there. But this incident is on another level.
This will be an interesting situation to keep an eye on. If the league doesn’t punish Gruden in some capacity, all of the work it has done over the past year in regards to race relations could suddenly be thrown into question. If it does, however, it will set a precedent that may be difficult to enforce in the future.
PJ Washington’s new girlfriend is making quite the impression. https://t.co/Seaq1IPDzo
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 8, 2021
Watch this space. Whatever decision the powers that be ultimately come to will have massive ramifications for the entire NFL.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.