Jon Gruden is out as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after several emails he authored over a seven year period between 2011-18 were made public via a New York Times investigation published on Monday, October 11, 2021.
Contained in those comments, which were discovered through a separate NFL investigation into workplace misconduct within the Washington Football Team (WFT), were several examples of racism, homophobia and misogyny. Also included were specific and problematic criticisms of former San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, and the attempts he and then-Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick made to shine light on social injustice by kneeling for the national anthem while members of the 49ers roster.
“In numerous emails during a seven-year period ending in early 2018, Gruden criticized Goodell and the league for trying to reduce concussions and said that Eric Reid, a player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired,” according to the New York Times report.
Reid joined Kaepernick and ignited a global social justice movement when the two took a knee before a game against the then-San Diego Chargers on September 1, 2016.
All told, Reid played seven NFL seasons, the first five with the 49ers and the last two with the Carolina Panthers. He started 98 of the 99 games in which he appeared and earned a Pro-Bowl selection during his rookie season, according to Pro Football Reference.
Reid complained publicly near the end of his career that his efforts to promote social justice in the form of kneeling during the anthem earned him undue professional discrimination from several NFL franchises, if not out-and-out blackballing in some cases. Reid played his final season in 2019.
Gruden Used Wide Range of Slurs Against Several People, Groups
It was not just Reid, or the joint efforts of Reid and Kaepernick to protest police brutality, with which Gruden took issue.
The former NFL head coach did not hold back when insultingly describing in his emails several individuals and developments tied to the league. Those communications were addressed to former president of the WFT Bruce Allen and several others. Gruden and Allen developed a relationship when they both worked for the Raiders in the late 1990s and early 2000s, according to the New York Times report.
Among other things, Gruden used a homophobic slur in reference to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and another in reference to former NFL player Michael Sam, an openly gay man who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2014.
Gruden also invoked a misogynistic insult to describe then-Vice President Joe Biden, along with Goodell and National Football League Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. The entire scandal began last week when an email from the former Raiders head coach invoking a racial stereotype while insulting Smith was made public.
Defensive end Carl Nassib, the only openly gay player in the NFL, is currently a productive member of the Raiders roster.
Gruden’s decision to step down was announced by the team Monday night and shared on social media via the Raiders official Twitter account.
“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” Gruden said. “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.”
Gruden’s Emails Indicate NFL Has Long Way To Go
While Gruden has exited the league and isn’t likely to return soon, if ever, media members have speculated that the discriminatory and hateful sentiments he shared consistently over several years continue to linger in several corners of the NFL.
Monte Poole, who covers the Golden State Warriors for NBC Sports Bay Area and hosts a show about the function of race in the United States, took to Twitter Monday night to share his thoughts on the matter. As it turns out, they were best expressed through the words of another.