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Jon Gruden Used Racist Trope to Refer to DeMaurice Smith in 2011

Ryan Phillips
Miami Dolphins v Las Vegas Raiders
Miami Dolphins v Las Vegas Raiders / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
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Jon Gruden is about to be in hot water. The Wall Street Journal is reporting Las Vegas Raiders head coach used a racist trope to refer to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email.

At the time of the email, the NFL and its players were working to end an ugly lockout that threatened the 2011 season. Smith was the point person for the NFLPA helping craft the agreement. The league's owners voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement on July 11, 2011. The players decided not to vote on the agreement that day, due to some inner turmoil they were working to resolve. That same day, Gruden sent an email to then-Washington Football Team president saying, "Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin (sic) tires."

In 2011, Gruden was working as a broadcaster for ESPN, serving in the coveted color analyst spot on Monday Night Football, a job he maintained until the end of the 2017 NFL season.

The comment is highly offensive and evokes anti-black, racist imagery. It's offensive and there's no excuse for it.

Gruden told the Journal he didn't recall writing the email, but apologized for it:

Gruden said he had been angry at the time because of the lockout and didn’t trust the direction the players, led by Smith, were going in the negotiations. He said he has in the past referred to people he believes to be lying as “rubber lips” and that he took it "too far."

"I was upset," Gruden said. "I used a horrible way of explaining it."

"I don’t think he’s dumb. I don’t think he’s a liar," Gruden said. "I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years."

Gruden also talked to The Athletic's Vic Tafur about the email:

We'll see what the fallout is from this incident, but it doesn't look great for Gruden.

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