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NFL franchise Las Vegas Raiders and head coach Jon Gruden parted ways on Monday night after a host of racist and homophobic emails were released to the public.
Gruden returned to NFL coaching in 2018 with the Raiders, signing a 10-year $100 million contract, after spending the better part of a decade as a broadcaster for US sports company ESPN.
But it was a string of offensive emails to former president of the Washington Football Team Bruce Allen which ultimately forced Gruden to resign.
“I have resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” he said on Twitter in a statement issued by the team. “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.”
The emails, uncovered by the New York Times on Monday, spanning over a number of years, included calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “faggot” and a “clueless anti-football pussy” while also saying that Goodell should have played no part in the drafting of “queers,” in reference to the then-St Louis Rams selecting Michael Sam in 2014 who is gay — the Raiders currently have Carl Nassib who became the first openly gay player to play in the NFL earlier this year.
Other emails included topless photos of women, some being Washington cheerleaders, more homophobic language aimed at Goodell and other crude terms to describe NFL owners, coaches and journalists who were involved in the 2011 labour disagreement which led to strike action.
“I was in a bad frame of mind at the time [in 2011], and I called Roger Goodell a [expletive] in one of these emails too,” the Raiders coach told ESPN on Friday night.
“They were keeping players and coaches from doing what they love with a lockout.
“There also were a lot of things being reported publicly about the safety of the sport that I love. I was on a mission with high school football [in the Tampa, Florida, area] during that time, and there were a lot of parents who were scared about letting their kids play football. It just didn’t sit well with me.”
He also said that former safety Eric Reid should be fired for his peaceful protest against the injustices faced by black people in the United States during the US national anthem.
Prior to his resignation, Gruden was being investigated for a racist email, uncovered by the Wall Street Journal sent in 2011, also sent to Allen, in which he described the NFL players’ union executive director DeMaurice Smith, who is black, as having “lips the size of Michellin tires.”
Following that revelation, Gruden claimed that he did not have “a blade of racism” in his body.
All the emails sent are believed to be while Gruden was working as an analyst for ESPN and Gruden was allowed to coach the Raiders on Sunday, despite the first email being uncovered and reported publicly days before.
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