NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith releases statement regarding Jon Gruden email
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith on Monday released a statement in regard to Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s 2011 email in which Gruden used a racial trope to describe Smith.
Smith’s statement, which was released on Twitter, underscored Smith’s belief that the email is a confirmation the battle to stop racism and intolerance is ongoing and that football must “be better.”
“The email from Jon Gruden — and some of the reaction to it — confirms that 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,” Smith’s statement read. “The email has also revealed why the comments by some with powerful platforms to explain this away are insidious and hypocritical. It is as if there is a need to protect football above the values of equality, inclusion and respect.
“The powerful in our business have to embrace that football itself has to be better, as opposed to making excuses to maintain the status quo.
“I appreciate that he reached out to me [and] I told him that we will connect soon, but make no mistake, the news is not about what is said in our private conversation, but what else is said by people who never thought they would be exposed and how they are going to be held to account.”
Smith’s statement was issued a day after Gruden apologized for the comments — that were revealed in a Friday report from The Wall Street Journal. Gruden, when he worked as a Monday Night Football analyst for ESPN, sent a 2011 email to then-Washington president Bruce Allen during the NFL lockout in which Gruden wrote, “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” referring to Smith, who is Black.
“All I can say is that I’m not a racist,” Gruden said following the Raiders’ 20-9 loss to the Chicago Bears. “I can’t tell you how sick I am. I apologize again to De Smith, but I feel good about who I am and what I’ve done my entire life. I apologize for the insensitive remarks. I had no racial intentions with those remarks at all. But… yes, they can… I’m not like that at all. I apologize but I don’t want to keep addressing it.”
The league and Raiders owner Mark Davis released statements Friday that condemned Gruden’s comments.
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