“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 in a statement issued by the Raiders.
Critics had called for Gruden, who has coached the Raiders since the beginning of the 2018 season, to be fired since The Wall Street Journal
reported he used racially insensitive language
to describe NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email.
On Monday, the New York Times reported it reviewed more emails and found Gruden denounced women being employed as on-field officials, a team drafting an openly gay player, and the tolerance for national anthem protesters.
A league source confirmed the accuracy of the Times’ story to CNN.
The emails were uncovered by the league and presented to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last week, the source said. The league sent them to the Raiders and has actively been waiting for the team to review them with Gruden as it stated Friday night.
On Friday, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said: “The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values. We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else.”
CNN has reached out again to Gruden, to the NFL and to the Raiders for comment.
Gruden’s messages were sent while he was working for ESPN as a color analyst during “Monday Night Football,” the Times reported.
In one he called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “p*ssy” and a “f*ggot,” according to the Times. In another he called Michael Sam a “queer” after the player was drafted by the St. Louis Rams and Gruden said the league should not have pressured the team’s then coach to draft Sam, the Times reported.
The Times said the emails covered a seven-year period.
In response to the Wall Street Journal report, Gruden said, “All I can say is that I’m not a racist.”
He added: “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.”