The NFL reacted strongly and quickly to a report that Jon Gruden used a racist comment about the leader of the NFL Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, in an email 10 years ago.
A Wall Street Journal story noted that Gruden, then working for ESPN and now coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, made a racist reference to Smith’s facial features.
“The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent and totally contrary to the values of the NFL,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. “We condemn the statement and regret any damage its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else.”
The league is investigating the matter, and a person familiar with that investigation told The Associated Press that Gruden may take disciplinary action. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of any league investigation are not being made public.
Gruden’s comment in an email to then-Washington soccer team president Bruce Allen came during the 2011 NFL lockout of players. Gruden told the newspaper that he was angry about the lockout during labor negotiations and that he did not trust the direction the union was taking. He also apologized for the comment, the Journal reported.
During a review of emails on workplace misconduct on the Washington soccer team that was completed over the summer, “the league was informed of emails that raised issues beyond the scope of that investigation, “McCarthy added.
“In recent months, under the direction of the commissioner,” he added of Roger Goodell, “senior NFL executives reviewed the content of more than 650,000 emails, including this one that was sent to a club employee. Executives submitted a summary of that review to the commissioner earlier this week and are sharing emails related to Coach Gruden with Raiders executives. “
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