Jon Gruden resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after a series of leaked emails showed that he called Commissioner Roger Goodell a homophobic slur and used other derogatory remarks when corresponding electronically with former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen.
The Super Bowl-winning coach and former commentator issued a statement Monday evening announcing his resignation.
“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone,” he said.
Even before Monday’s rapidly-breaking series of events, the 58-year-old Gruden was already in hot water after a report revealed that the coach, then working as an ESPN broadcaster, invoked a racial stereotype over email to describe NFLPA President DeMaurice Smith in 2011.
The coach apologized for the comment, telling reporters he’s not a racist.
But the New York Times reported Monday the existence of additional emails over a seven-year period that reveals Gruden was critical of Goodell and others.
Gruden reportedly called Goodell a “clueless anti-football p—-y” in an email and wrote that the commissioner should have not pressured then-Rams coach Jeff Fisher to draft “queers,” a reference to 2014 seventh-round draft pick Michael Sam, the former defensive end who came out as gay before the draft.
The newspaper also reported that Gruden traded emails with Allen and other men that included “photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders.”
At the time, Gruden’s brother, Jay, was Washington’s head coach. Jon Gruden and Allen have been longtime friends, working together in Oakland and later Tampa Bay, where Allen served as general manager while Gruden was the coach. Washington fired Jay Gruden in 2019.
Shortly after the Times’ report dropped, the NFL Network first reported that Gruden had informed his assistants that he was stepping down. Numerous other outlets reported Monday evening that he resigned before Gruden release his statement.
The emails were discovered as part of the NFL’s probe into the Washington Football Team’s alleged workplace misconduct.
The investigation, led by D.C. lawyer Beth Wilkinson, lasted over the course of a year, leading the NFL to fine the team $10 million for what it called a “very toxic” workplace. More than 40 women said they were sexually harassed while working for the team.
Owner Dan Snyder was not suspended for the incident, though he agreed to voluntarily step away from the team for “several months” — ceding control of day-to-day operations to his wife Tanya, named co-CEO.
The NFL did not make public a final report. League officials said the findings of the investigation were given verbally to Goodell, so no written report was actually created.
But as part of the findings, the league became aware of Gruden’s emails.
Gruden was also reportedly critical of players who spoke out against racial injustice, writing that former safety Eric Reid should have been fired for kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.
He wrote that Goodell needed to “hide in the concussion protocol tent” for promoting political causes in 2017.
Allen and Gruden traded emails with businessman Jim McVay, restaurateur Nick Reader and Hooters co-founder Ed Droste.
The New York Times reported that in 2015, Allen and Gruden mocked a congressional bill that tried to force Washington — then known as the Redskins — to change its name.
“Again using a vulgar term, Gruden took aim at Goodell and his staff even though the commissioner had initially defended the team’s right to keep the name,” the paper wrote.
Allen and Gruden also reportedly mocked transgender reality-TV star Caitlyn Jenner.
In Las Vegas, Gruden coaches the first openly gay player on an NFL roster, defensive end Carl Nassib.
The Raiders signed Gruden to a 10-year, $100 million contract in 2018. It marked his second stint with the team, having previously coached the Raiders from 1998 to 2001. He returned to coaching after a nine-year absence in which he served as the main analyst for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”
The Raiders, who moved to Las Vegas last year, were 22-31 under Gruden this time around.
He holds a 117-111 record overall, winning a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2003 season.