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Raiders coach Jon Gruden used a racist stereotype to refer to NFL union boss DeMaurice Smith in 2011, according to a recently discovered email.
“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” Gruden wrote during the NFL lockout in an email to Bruce Allen, then the GM in Washington.
The email was reported by the Wall Street Journal on Friday; the NFL’s first investigation of the Washington Football Team’s sexual harassment scandals uncovered emails “beyond the scope of that investigation.”
Gruden apologized, although with the usual caveats that call into doubt the sincerity of the apology. “I’m really sorry,” Gruden said, before claiming that he calls liars “rubber lips,” but also that he doesn’t think Smith is a liar.
“I don’t think he’s dumb. I don’t think he’s a liar,” he told the Journal. “I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”
“This is not the first racist comment that I’ve heard and it probably will not be the last,” Smith said in a statement. (Smith’s contract is up and he could be voted out of his job as the NFL players’ union executive director as soon as Friday.) “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.”
In their statement, the NFL told the WSJ that the email was “appalling, abhorrent.”
Gruden, now the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, was an ESPN broadcaster when he sent the email to Allen, who was the Washington GM from 2010-19. In July 2011, when Gruden sent the email, the NFL’s players union — led by Smith — and owners were days away from settling a brief lockout.