Coach of the Raiders Resigns Following Homophobic and Misogynistic Emails
The New York Times revealed that Raiders Coach Jon Gruden casually used misogynistic and homophobic words to denigrate people in emails.
Jon Gruden resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders football team on Monday, hours after The New York Times published emails in which he made homophobic and misogynistic insults in response to an earlier story of racist remarks about a union official.
His resignation marked a dramatic departure from the NFL for a coach who had won a Super Bowl, served as a prominent analyst on ESPN, and returned to the league in 2018 to lead the resurgent Raiders, whom he had coached years before.
"I am resigning as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders," he announced in a statement released by the team on Twitter. "I adore the Raiders and wish to avoid being a distraction. We appreciate everyone of the Raider Nation's players, coaches, staff, and fans. I'm sorry; I never intended to cause anyone harm."
The Raiders' owner, Mark Davis, confirmed the resignation in a statement. The Raiders promoted Rich Bisaccia, the special teams coordinator, to interim head coach, the organization announced.
Gruden resigned following a New York Times report that NFL officials discovered that Gruden had casually and frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language over several years to denigrate people in the game and mock some of the league's momentous changes as part of a separate workplace misconduct investigation that did not directly involve him.
According to emails reviewed by The Times, he criticized the rise of female referees, the drafting of a gay player, and the tolerance of players demonstrating during the singing of the national anthem.
Gruden sent the texts to Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington Football Team, and others while working for ESPN as a color analyst on "Monday Night Football." Gruden referred to the league's commissioner, Roger Goodell, as a "faggot" and a "clueless anti-football pussy" in the emails, and said Goodell should not have pressed Jeff Fisher, the Rams' then-coach, to recruit "queers," a reference to Michael Sam, the team's 2014 LGBT draft pick.
Gruden blasted Goodell and the league for attempting to prevent concussions in multiple emails over a seven-year period ending in early 2018. He also said that Eric Reid, a player who demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired. Gruden used a homophobic slur to refer to Goodell on several occasions and offensive language to describe several NFL owners, coaches, and journalists who cover the league.
Gruden, Allen, the NFL, and the Raiders all declined to comment.
Although he was not coaching a club at the time, Gruden retained considerable influence in the league and was much sought after as a coach. He previously won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002. And in 2018, he was hired for a second tenure as head coach of the Raiders club, which features defensive lineman Carl Nassib, the league's first active gay player.
Last Monday, the league said that it shared emails with the Raiders in which Gruden made disparaging remarks.
Gruden told ESPN on Sunday that the league was investigating emails in which he attacked Goodell. He noted that he was unhappy at the time about team owners' lockout of players in 2011. Gruden stated in the interview that he used an obscenity to refer to Goodell because he objected to Goodell's emphasis on safety, which he believed scared parents away from football.
However, Gruden's antics did not end in 2011. Gruden communicated with Allen and other guys via email, which included photographs of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one of two Washington team cheerleaders.
Gruden also attacked President Obama during his 2012 re-election campaign, as well as Vice President Joseph R. Biden, whom Gruden referred to as a "nervous stupid pussy." He used similar language to disparage Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, the N.F.L. Players Association's executive director.
Gruden is already under investigation by the league as a consequence of another email he sent to Allen in 2011 in which he used racial language to disparage Smith, who is Black.
Gruden, who is white and worked at ESPN at the time, attacked Smith's intelligence and used a racial cliche to characterize his appearance in the email. The Wall Street Journal originally reported on the correspondence, which was later corroborated by The New York Times.
Taken together, the emails reveal an unvarnished glimpse into the clubby atmosphere of one National Football League group of peers, where white male decision makers felt comfortable discussing pornographic photographs, mocking league laws, and sharing homophobic language in a jocular manner.
Their banter contradicts the league's public condemnations of racism and sexism, as well as its promises to be more inclusive in the face of criticism for failing to listen to the concerns of Black players, who make up around 70% of rosters. The NFL has struggled in the past to penalize individuals who have committed acts of domestic abuse and has been chastised for failing to appropriately address harassment of women, especially cheerleaders.
When Gruden's comments on Smith surfaced, the league, Smith, and Davis all condemned them, but the coach still led his team in Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears. Gruden stated on Friday that he had no recollection of writing the email and that his language "went too far," adding, "I have never had a blade of racism in me."
Gruden's emails to Allen, who was sacked by the Washington Football Team at the end of 2019, were evaluated as part of a National Football League investigation into workplace misconduct at the team that concluded this summer. Over the last few months, Goodell directed league executives to review more than 650,000 emails, including those in which Gruden made offensive remarks. Goodell got a summary of their findings last week, and the league forwarded some of Gruden's emails to the Raiders.
Gruden utilized his personal email account for the exchanges, while Allen used his team email account. In some instances, Allen initiated the dialogue and Gruden responded, while in others, they exchange filthy remark after obscene remark.
Gruden and Allen also exchanged emails with businessmen pals, including Ed Droste, co-creator of Hooters; Jim McVay, an executive who oversaw the Outback Bowl, an annual event hosted in Tampa, Fla.; and Nick Reader, proprietor of PDQ Restaurants, a Tampa-based fried chicken company. The debates began in 2010, when Gruden was a "Monday Night Football" analyst. He signed a ten-year, $100 million contract with the Raiders in 2018.
Droste, McVay, and Reader all declined to comment.
Gruden and Allen have been friends and colleagues for a long time. Allen served as a senior executive with the Raiders from 1995 to 2003, during which time he worked alongside Gruden, the team's head coach from 1998 to 2001. Gruden was named head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002 and led the team to a Super Bowl victory over the Oakland Raiders that season. Allen was appointed general manager in 2004. Both Allen and Gruden were released by the Buccaneers following the 2008 season. While Gruden moved on to a broadcasting career with ESPN, Allen was named general manager and eventually president of the Washington Capitals in 2010.
Allen, the son of renowned NFL coach George Allen, and Gruden — whose father coached at Notre Dame and whose brother, Jay, served as head coach in Washington from 2014 to 2019 — are part of an exclusive network that rotates between N.F.L. clubs, networks, and league-affiliated firms.
In June, the National Football League honored Nassib on becoming the first active NFL player to publicly announce his homosexuality. "I'm proud of Carl for courageously revealing his truth today," Goodell stated. Representation is critical."
Allen and Gruden looked to have few restraints when it came to speaking homophobic and transphobic words in private. Gruden harshly requested Allen in one 2015 email, which included Droste, McVay, and others, to inform Bryan Glazer, whose family owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where Gruden coached until 2008, to perform oral sex on him. Allen stated that Glazer would "accept your offer."
Allen and Gruden also insulted Caitlyn Jenner, who transitioned and got an award from ESPN in 2015.
Allen and Gruden criticized a legislative law in 2015 that sought to force the Washington franchise to alter its name, which it did last year. Gruden again used a filthy epithet to attack Goodell and his staff, despite the commissioner initially defending the team's right to retain its name.
In 2017, Droste shared a discriminatory meme of a female referee with the group, to which Gruden responded, "Nice job, Roger."
Gruden received an email that same year with a link to an article about NFL players pleading with Goodell to support their efforts to advance racial equality and criminal justice reform. Gruden advised Goodell to "huddle in his concussion protocol tent."