Jon Gruden used racial trope in leaked email to NFLPA head

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden apologized Friday after a leaked email from 2011 came to light in which he referred to NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith using a racial stereotype.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Gruden sent the email during the 2011 NFL lockout to Bruce Allen, who was the GM of the Washington Redskins at the time.

“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin [sic] tires,” the email read.

Gruden apologized to the WSJ, saying he is “really sorry” and that he refers to liars as “rubber lips.” He also said, however, he doesn’t think Smith is a liar.

“I don’t think he’s dumb,” Gruden told the Journal. “I don’t think he’s a liar. I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”

Smith, who could be voted out of the leadership position at the NFLPA, released a statement in response.

Jon Gruden during the Raiders’ game against the Steelers
Getty Images

“This is not the first racist comment that I’ve heard and it probably will not be the last,” the statement read. “Racism like this comes from the fact that I’m at the same table as they are and they don’t think someone who looks like me belongs.”

The NFL denounced Gruden’s comment in a statement on Friday.

NFL Players Association Executive director DeMaurice Smith speaks at the annual state of the union news conference in Miami Beach, Fla. The NFL and the NFLPA haven’t come to an agreement on all protocols for training camp and the preseason as the report date for teams draws closer. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)
NFL Players Association Executive director DeMaurice Smith
AP Photo

“The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values. We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else.”

Gruden is in the middle of his fourth season as the head coach of the Raiders. He has gotten off to a strong 3-1 start, and faces the Bears (2-2) this Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas.

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