Jon Gruden Breaks Silence On Email Controversy

By Jason Hall

October 22, 2021

Chicago Bears v Las Vegas Raiders
Photo: Getty Images

Former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden has reportedly vowed "the truth will come out" in relation to controversial past emails in which he used racist, misogynistic and anti-gay language surfacing.

NFL reporter Andrea Kremer, who recently profiled Raiders owner Mark Davis for HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, revealed on the Real Sports Podcast that a show producer recently cold-called Gruden and the coach addressed the controversy.

Maggie Burbank, who produced the story that we just did on Mark Davis, she actually called Gruden and he picked up the phone, much to I think her surprise,” Kremer said via ProFootballTalk. “And he’s still in Las Vegas. . . . He says he’s letting the dust settle. He said, ‘People who know me know what I stand for for 58 years. I have a resume of 58 years.’ He said, ‘The truth will come out.’ It’s certainly cryptic.”

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 October 11.

"It's official," Pelissero tweeted. "Gruden out in Las Vegas."

Gruden's departure came shortly after a New York Times report was published that same day, 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 that same night regarding his departure: "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."

ESPN's Suzy Kolber initially reported Raiders assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia would be promoted to interim head coach in Gruden's absence.

Bisaccia, who led the Raiders to a 34-24 road win against the Denver Broncos last Sunday (October 17), 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 reported 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 reported 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 had a 3-2 record through their first five games of the 2021 season prior to his resignation.

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