Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has resigned after sending homophobic, transphobic, and misogynistic emails to NFL colleagues.
Gruden’s resignation comes just months after the Raiders’ defensive lineman, Carl Nassib, became the first openly gay active player in NFL history.
“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” Gruden said in a statement issued through the Raiders. “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.”
Mark Davis, principal owner of the Raiders, later said he had accepted Gruden’s resignation. Assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia will serve as interim head coach following Gruden’s departure and is expected to host a press briefing on Wednesday.
Gruden resigned after the New York Times reported that the NFL was investigating him for having “casually and frequently unleashed misogynistic and homophobic language” over a period of several years.
In emails sent between 2011 and 2018, Gruden repeatedly used homophobic slurs to refer to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, including calling him a “faggot” and a “clueless anti football pussy.”
Gruden also criticized Goodell for allegedly pressuring the St. Louis Rams (now Los Angeles Rams) to draft “queers.”
That referred to the Rams’ decision to draft Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team. Sam was later cut from the team during the final preseason roster cutdowns.
Emails also show Allen and Gruden mocking transgender reality star and former Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner.
In addition, the NFL is investigating racist terms used by Goodell to describe NFL official DeMaurice Smith, who is Black, including criticisms of Smith’s intelligence and the use of a racist trope to describe his features.
Gruden is also alleged to have shared photos of half-naked women with former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen and other men, including two Washington cheerleaders.
Per the Times: “Taken together, the emails provide an unvarnished look into the clubby culture of one N.F.L. circle of peers, where white male decision makers felt comfortable sharing pornographic images, deriding the league policies, and jocularly sharing homophobic language.”
The anti-LGBTQ nature of Gruden’s emails stands at odds with the NFL’s attempts to appeal to LGBTQ people, especially after the Raiders’ Carl Nassib came out in June.
Nassib, 28, made history by becoming the first openly gay active player in the NFL, after posting a coming out video on Instagram.
The NFL responded by posting a video to its official Twitter account calling football “gay,” “lesbian,” “queer,” “transgender,” “bisexual,” and “for everyone.”
“If you love this game, you are welcome here. Football is for all. Football is for everyone,” the NFL wrote. “The NFL stands by the LGBTQ+ community today and every day.”
Gruden’s emails also stand at odds with his own public support of Nassib after he came out.
“I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great,” Gruden said at the time.
LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD responded to Gruden’s comments in a series of tweets.
“Even as the first out gay player is competing on the Raiders and receiving widespread support from fans and teammates, accountability is necessary to ensure that all athletes can compete without discrimination and harassment,” GLAAD wrote.
“Gruden’s anti-LGBTQ and misogynistic emails, which went unchecked for years, are a disturbing reminder of the work that still needs to be done to improve inclusion and acceptance in sports at all levels.”
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