Jon Gruden resigned Monday as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after reports emerged of him using homophobic, racist and misogynistic language in emails while he worked as an ESPN analyst.
“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,” he said in a statement issued by the Raiders.
Raiders owner Mark Davis tweeted he had accepted Gruden’s resignation.
Critics had called for Gruden, who has coached the Raiders since the beginning of the 2018 season, to be fired since The Wall Street Journal reported Friday he used racially insensitive language to describe NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email.
On Monday, the New York Times reported it reviewed more emails and found Gruden denounced women being employed as on-field officials, a team drafting an openly gay player, and the tolerance for national anthem protesters.
The Times said the NFL uncovered the emails as part of an investigation that at its outset ostensibly didn’t involve Gruden – a review of workplace misconduct at the Washington Football Team. In July, the league fined the Washington Football Team $10 million following the conclusion of the investigation which found the club’s work environment was “highly unprofessional,” especially for women.
Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, attorneys representing 40 former employees of the Washington Football Team, called upon the NFL on Tuesday to disclose the results of the investigation into the team’s workplace culture.
“It is truly outrageous that after the NFL’s 10-month-long investigation involving hundreds of witnesses and 650,000 documents related to the longtime culture of harassment and abuse at the Washington Football Team, the only person to be held accountable and lose their job is the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” the attorneys said.
“If the NFL felt it appropriate to release these offensive emails from Jon Gruden, which it obtained during its investigation into the Washington Football Team, it must also release the findings related to the actual target of that investigation,” they added.
Many of Gruden’s emails, covering a seven-year period, were sent to Bruce Allen, the Washington team’s then-president who was fired in December 2019, according to the Times.
A league source confirmed the accuracy of the Times’ story to CNN.
The emails were uncovered by the league and presented to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell last week, the source said. The league said Friday it sent the emails to the Raiders and it has been waiting for the team to review them with Gruden.
On Friday, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said: “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.”
CNN has reached out again to Gruden, to the NFL and to the Raiders for comment.
Josh Krulewitz, a spokesperson for ESPN, issued the following statement: “The comments are clearly repugnant under any circumstance.”
What the emails said
Gruden was one of the NFL’s highest-paid coaches, having signed a 10-year, $100 million contract with the Raiders, according to salary tracking website Spotrac. He first coached the Raiders from 1998 to 2001, then won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002. At the time, Gruden was 39 and then, the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl.
He left the Bucs in 2008 and was inducted into the team’s ring of honor in 2017, but the organization said Tuesday he has been removed from membership because “his actions go against our core values as an organization.”
Gruden became a football analyst for ESPN after his time with Tampa Bay and his messages were sent while he was working for ESPN as a color analyst during “Monday Night Football,” the Times reported.
In one message, Gruden called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “p*ssy” and a “f*ggot,” according to the Times. In another, he called Michael Sam a “queer” after the player was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2014, and Gruden said the league should not have pressured the team’s then coach to draft Sam, the Times reported.
Sam publicly revealed he was gay ahead of the draft; he ultimately never played a regular-season game in the league.
Former Rams head coach Jeff Fisher tweeted that the team drafted Sam based on his college defensive production and pass-rushing skills and that the NFL never encouraged or discouraged him regarding draft prospects.
Since 2020, Gruden has coached Carl Nassib, a Raiders defensive end who this year became the first active player in league history to announce he is gay.
Given the contents of the emails, Gruden’s credibility in the locker room would have evaporated, NFL Network and NFL.com reporter and analyst Ian Rapoport said Tuesday.
“How would he stand up in the middle of the room and lead this group of men, with several people in that locker room knowing that, privately, he makes fun of them or is against them?” Rapoport said on CNN’s “New Day.”
“It could not work. That partially explains why Jon Gruden resigned to owner Mark Davis and then to his staff last night,” Rapoport said.
On Friday, an NFL spokesperson said the email reported in the Wall Street Journal was unearthed as part of the NFL review of workplace misconduct at the Washington Football Team.
In response to the Wall Street Journal report, Gruden said Sunday: “All I can say is that I’m not a racist.”
He added: “I can’t tell you how sick I am. I apologize again to De Smith, but I feel good about who I am and what I’ve done my entire life. I apologize for the insensitive remarks. I had no racial intentions with those remarks at all.”
Rich Bisaccia, the Raiders’ special teams coordinator and assistant head coach, will be the interim head coach, effective immediately, the team said.
CNN’s Jill Martin and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.