Here's What Mike Tomlin Said About Jon Gruden Controversy, Resignation
By Jason Hall
October 12, 2021
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, the NFL's longest tenured Black head coach, commented on the resignation of former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden -- his former boss -- amid controversial past emails in which Gruden used racist, misogynistic and anti-gay language surfacing.
Tomlin served as the defensive backs coach on Gruden's Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff from 2002-05 -- having previously joined the team as a member of Tony Dungy's staff in 2001 -- before being hired by the Minnesota Vikings for the same position in 2006 and becoming the Steelers' head coach in 2007, making him the third-longest tenured NFL head coach behind only Bill Belichick (New England Patriots, 2000) and Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints, 2006).
"I'm just saddened by it," Tomlin said via NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano. I'm saddened for the Raiders organization. I'm saddened for the people that were offended by it. I'm saddened for Coach Gruden."
Tomlin added it was a sad situation, "And that's all I really have to say about it."
Mike Tomlin, on his former coach Jon Gruden.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) October 12, 2021
"I'm just saddened by it. I'm saddened for the Raiders organization. I'm saddened for the people that were offended by it. I'm saddened for Coach Gruden."
It's just a sad commentary, "And that's all I really have to say about it."
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Gruden informed his staff that he "plans to resign" as the Raiders' coach and spoke with team owner Mark Davis "a short time ago to inform Davis of his decision" before an official announcement Monday (October 11) evening.
"It's official," Pelissero tweeted. "Gruden out in Las Vegas."
Gruden's departure comes shortly after a New York Times report Monday night, which revealed the coach used misogynistic and anti-gay language in numerous emails during a seven-year span beginning in 2011.
Gruden released a statement obtained by ESPN's Adam Schefter regarding his departure Monday night: "I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I'm sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone."
Jon Gruden statement: “I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 12, 2021
ESPN's Suzy Kolber reports Raiders assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia will be promoted to interim head coach in Gruden's absence.
Bisaccia had previously coached alongside Gruden during seven seasons in Tampa Bay and joined the Raiders with the head coach in 2018.
According to the report, the NFL sent the Raiders additional past emails sent by Gruden to review after another older email sent by the coach using a racist comment in reference to NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who is Black, surfaced last week.
The Times reports Gruden sent emails to then-Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen and others between 2011-2018, which included accusing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell of pressuring then-Rams head coach Jeff Fisher to draft "queers" in reference to the team selecting Michael Sam, an openly gay player, in 2014.
Gruden also used an anti-gay slur on several occasions when discussing Goodell, as well as offensive language to describe some league owners, coaches and NFL media members.
The Times also reports Gruden denounced the emergence of female NFL referees and called for safety Eric Reid, who took a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, to be fired in the emails.
According to the report, when sent an article link related to NFL players seeking Commissioner Goodell's support in their ongoing effort to promote racial equality and criminal justice reform, Gruden responded with an email stating: "He needs to hide in his concussion protocol tent."
Gruden was employed by ESPN and served as a lead analyst during the network's Monday Night Football broadcasts at the time of the emails mentioned in the Times' report.
"The comments are clearly repugnant under any circumstance," ESPN said in a statement.
Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a statement regarding the previous report of Gruden using a racial trope to describe Smith on Friday in which he called the content of the coach's email "disturbing" and "not what the Raiders stand for."
Gruden's emails were brought to light amid the NFL's investigation into workplace misconduct within the Washington Football Team, with league spokesman Brian McCarthy stating, "the league was informed of the existence of emails that raised issues beyond the scope of that investigation," ESPN reports.
Senior NFL executives reportedly reviewed more than 650,000 emails during the investigation, which included ones between Gruden and Allen, before the league sent relevant emails to the Raiders for review.
Gruden had previously coached the Raiders from 1998 to 2001, when he was traded during the following offseason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, immediately leading the Bucs to their first Super Bowl title in franchise history against his former team.
Gruden was fired by Tampa Bay in 2008, joining the Monday Night Football broadcast team the following season.
The 58-year-old was re-hired by the then-Oakland Raiders in 2018, agreeing to a 10-year, $100 million contract.
The Raiders, who moved to Las Vegas in 2020, had not made the playoffs since Gruden's return, but currently have a 3-2 record through their first five games of the 2021 season.