BOSTON (CBS) — Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden will coach Sunday’s game under uncomfortable circumstances, after comments he made in a 2011 email about NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith surfaced on Friday.
In the email, Gruden wrote, “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires [sic].” He’s since apologized, though it’s not yet determined if or how he will be disciplined by the Raiders or the NFL.
On Sunday morning, former Patriots Randy Moss and Tedy Bruschi spoke candidly about the matter.
“This may have been 10 years ago, OK, but Jon Gruden’s response slash excuse was recent. See, I don’t think he understands what he did in that email,” Bruschi said on Sunday NFL Countdown. “When you insult a Black man’s intelligence by demeaning his appearance, that is racist. That is the only way I know it. That is the only way I was raised. That is racist.”
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on the show that after Gruden apologized to his team on Friday morning, one Black player hugged Gruden and told the coach that he has his support. Moss said such a response is absolutely wrong.
“You heard Adam Schefter talking about the one Black player, well, you don’t want to say his name, because he’s totally wrong in this in not understanding the magnitude of something like this,” Moss said. “We’re going into the 21st century, OK? And instead of us moving forward, we’re moving backwards. And I don’t, I really don’t know what percentage of the National Football League is Black, but I know it’s over 50 percent — 60, 70 percent, OK? And I know we generate a whole lot of money for this National Football League. And for you to hear Adam Schefter talking about some discipline or some distance from [Raiders owner Mark] Davis, the clock is ticking. We are watching to see what the National Football League is going to do about this, because I got to just say it: We’re trying to move forward going into the 21st century with the National Football League. And you’re talking about the kids from 10, 15 years from now that’s going to come into the league. What is this showing them? If they’re coming in to try to keep this National Football League going, generating all this money, and being this good entertainment for our country. Where are we headed?”
Moss spoke of “the brotherhood” of the NFL, which allowed him to meet countless people from different backgrounds that he never would have gotten to know otherwise. Gruden’s comment, Moss said, show a disregard for that concept.
“You have a leader of an organization that’s leading a group of men from different walks of life, of different nationalities, and racism is a big concern? I don’t know where the Raiders move from here, but the clock is ticking for the National Football League and the Las Vegas Raiders,” Moss said.
Moss added that the Raiders’ locker room must be “totally divided” after Gruden’s comments, while Bruschi said the players will simply be focusing on themselves on Sunday afternoon.
“Sometimes we don’t get to choose who we play for,” Bruschi said. “So I mean, if I’m playing for Jon Gruden right now, I’m just keeping my head down and doing what I got to do and earn my check, because I do not feel connected to this head coach based on what this man has done, and I just feel separated. This isn’t an attitude or an environment that is conducive to winning championships. But if this is what I gotta do to play with the man that I feel this way about, I’ll just do it, and do my job, and just worry about getting home and getting back to my family. And that’s not a way to win football games.”
Bruschi later summed up how he’d feel as a player in this spot: “I can play for you, but I’d rather not. I’d rather not do it, but if I have to do it, I will. And it’s just because I have other people that I have to provide for. But I’d rather not do it.”
Moss later shed tears while going deeper on his personal feelings on the matter.
“I speak about the game of football. I fell in love with the game of football at 6 years old, and I get emotional talking about it because of situations like this. My civil rights were taken — were kind of messed with in high school, over the color of my skin,” Moss said. “And now being able to play 14 years in the National Football League, to have something like this of a leader — we talk about leadership, we give guys these big contracts because they want to be able to lead 70 men, coaches, equipment staff and managers, to the number one goal, and that’s to win a championship. And for us to be moving back and not forward in the 21st century like I said, man. National Football League, this hurts me. The clock is ticking, man. I’m sorry.”
Randy Moss on Jon Gruden using a racist trope in an email: pic.twitter.com/rWcHeB60is
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 10, 2021
Former Jets and Bills head coach Rex Ryan added that what Gruden said was “100 percent unacceptable,” “absolutely ridiculous and asinine.” Former Boston College quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said “it’s disgusting, it’s embarrassing.”
Ryan added: “That’s the beauty of it. We may look different, Black, white, anything in between. That’s what the NFL locker room is made up of. Different religious beliefs, married, single, all this kind of stuff. It’s so different. But that’s the beauty of it. The greatest part of coaching is that brotherhood, that locker room. And you know what you can’t have is a racist, and you can’t have a racist comment. Is Jon Gruden a racist? I don’t know. But that comment damn sure is. It has no business being in our game. No business being in our game.”
UPDATE: After more emails from Gruden were published Monday night by The New York Times, Gruden resigned and is no longer the coach of the Raiders.