NFL coach Jon Gruden resigns in disgrace over homophobic, racist and misogynistic emails

A picture of Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden during a game against the Chicago Bears

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigned after emails emerged in which he used homophobic, misogynistic and racist language.

The New York Times reported Gruden used homophobic and misogynistic language in numerous emails between 2011 and 2018. In one of them, Gruden called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “f****t” and “clueless anti-football p***y”.

He also criticised Goodell for supposedly pressuring the St Louis Rams – which drafted openly gay player Michael Sam in 2014 – to hire “queers”.

Gruden was working as an ESPN commentator at the time before rejoining the Raiders on a 10-year deal in 2018. He had previously worked as coach of the Raiders, who were located in Oakland at the time, from 1998 to 2001.

The Raiders currently employ the only active openly gay NFL player, Carl Nassib, who came out publicly earlier this year.

Gruden said in a statement on Monday (11 October) that he loved the team and resigned as he didn’t “want to be a distraction”. He also thanked all the players, coaches, staff and “fans of Raider Nation”.

“I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone,” he said.

In other emails, Gruden said that Eric Reid, who was one of the first NFL players to kneel alongside Colin Kaepernick, should be fired. He also called then-vice president Joe Biden a “nervous clueless p***y” and exchanged photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms.

The Wall Street Journal reported Gruden used a racist trope in a 2011 email to describe NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who is Black.

Gruden told the newspaper that he was “upset” about the 2011 NFL lockout when he wrote the email about Smith, adding he “used a horrible way of explaining” his frustration.

He told ESPN he also insulted Goodell when he was in a “bad frame of mind” in 2011.

Smith said on Twitter that the email from Gruden and “some of the reaction to it” confirmed the “fight against racism, racist tropes and intolerance is not over”.

“This is not about an email as much as it is about a pervasive belief by some that people who look like me can be treated as less,” he wrote.

Michael Sam has not responded to the controversy directly, but he did praise a person on social media who thanked the NFL draftee for his “bravery and being a role model”.

ESPN said in a statement that Gruden’s comments are “clearly repugnant under any circumstance”.

The Las Vegas Raiders announced that assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia will serve as interim head coach.