Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden announced he is stepping down after a history of homophobic, misogynist, and racist comments were brought to light.
Gruden, who has coached the Raiders since 2018, broke the news in a statement posted to the team’s Twitter account on Monday evening. “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction,” he wrote. “Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
The comments in question span a decades’ worth of emails, according to the New York Times. During the nine years he spent as a sports analyst for ESPN, Gruden reportedly took aim at gay players in the NFL, athletes protesting police brutality, and women working as referees in the league.
In one incident, Gruden allegedly referred to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football pussy,” while also claiming that Goodell should not have pressured then-St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher to draft “queers.” That refers to Michael Sam, a Black man who was the first openly gay person to be drafted into the NFL in 2014. He retired from football just a year later, citing mental health concerns.
The Times also claims Gruden called to fire NFL players who kneel during the national anthem in solidarity with police brutality victims and used an unspecified homophobic slur to refer to NFL owners, coaches, and sports journalists. Over 800 people have been killed by police in 2021, according to the Mapping Police Violence database.
Gruden also made anti-Black comments about DeMaurice Smith in 2011, the executive director of the NFL Players Association. “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin [sic] tires,” he said, per the Times’s reporting.
Gruden told ESPN last week that he “was in a bad frame of mind at the time” that he wrote some of these emails.
“They were keeping players and coaches from doing what they love with a lockout,” he said, addressing messages in which he criticized the NFL for attempting to prevent players from sustaining concussions. “There also were a lot of things being reported publicly about the safety of the sport that I love,” he said, adding that “there were a lot of parents who were scared about letting their kids play football.” “It just didn’t sit well with me.”