The head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a watchdog group that advocates for diversity in the NFL, said Jon Gruden’s remark in 2011 about players’ union leader DeMaurice Smith was indicative of racism on many levels. professional sport.
Rod Graves, the Alliance’s executive director, also hinted at the search for discipline for Gruden.
A Wall Street Journal story noted that Gruden, who then worked for ESPN and now coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, racistically referred to Smith’s facial features in an email.
“Jon Gruden’s callous remarks about DeMaurice Smith are indicative of the racism that exists at many levels of professional sport,” Graves, executive director of the Alliance, said in a statement. âFurther, it reveals that the journey of African Americans and other minorities in sport is fraught with overwhelming mindsets at the highest level.
âWe hope that league and team ownership will address this issue with a remedy commensurate with those painful words. This is yet another inflection point in a society full of cynical social blinders, devoid of respect for the intellectual capacity and leadership of minorities. When will this end? “
The league is investigating the matter and a person familiar with the investigation has told The Associated Press that disciplinary action is possible for Gruden. The person spoke on condition of anonymity as details of any league investigation are not being made public.
Las Vegas hosts Chicago on Sunday.
The Alliance promotes the inclusion and advancement of minorities in professional football, from coaches to leadership and leadership positions in the league.
Gruden’s comment in an email to Washington football president Bruce Allen came during the 2011 NFL lockdown of players. Gruden told the newspaper he was angry with the lockout during collective bargaining and did not trust the direction the union was taking. He also apologized for the remark, the Journal reported.
“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” Gruden wrote in the email reviewed by the newspaper.
Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a statement Friday that Gruden’s email did not reflect the team’s standards.
âThe content of an email regarding Jon Gruden’s DeMaurice Smith when he worked for ESPN 10 years ago is disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for,â said Davis. âWe were first notified of the email late yesterday by a reporter and are reviewing it along with other material provided to us today by the NFL. We are discussing the matter with Coach Gruden and will have no further comments at this time. “
In a review of emails regarding Washington football team misconduct that ended over the summer, “the league was made aware of emails raising issues beyond the scope of this investigation, “NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said on Friday. He added that âJon Gruden’s email denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, heinous and totally contrary to the values ââof the NFL. We condemn the statement and regret any harm its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or on anyone else.
Professional football writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL