You know what they say, dear reader: “What’s emailed in the dark will eventually come to light.” Or ... something like that.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Jon Gruden, head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, made a racist comment about NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith in an email he sent during the 2011 NFL lockout.
Gruden, who was working as an ESPN analyst at the time, sent the email to the Washington Football Team’s then-president Bruce Allen. Per the Journal, he wrote to Allen that “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.”
More from the Wall Street Journal:
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 told the Journal that he didn’t specifically remember writing the email but ultimately was sorry for what he wrote.
Smith, who was recently retained as the players union’s director, shared a statement with the newspaper that said in part that “racism like this comes from the fact that I’m at the same table as they are and they don’t think someone who looks like me belongs.”
According to the Journal, the NFL became aware of Gruden’s email as the league carried out its investigation into reports of rife workplace misconduct behind closed doors at the Washington Football Team.
In a statement, the NFL called Gruden’s comment “appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary” to the league’s values–which, whatever y’all say, man. Raiders owner Mark Davis echoed that sentiment, telling the newspaper that the email is “disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for.”
As for whether Gruden will be penalized for his comments, the Associated Press reports that the league is investigating the situation further. A source close to that investigation told the AP that disciplinary action is possible for the coach.