Jon Gruden says emails are ‘shameful’ but I’m ‘a good person’, hope to ‘take another pic’
Former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden has for the first time publicly addressed the email controversy that cost him his job last October.
Gruden, who is currently embroiled in a lawsuit against the NFL claiming the league picked him, spoke at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Tuesday in Arkansas.
Gruden, 59, said he was going to be “honest” with the rally.
“I’m ashamed of what’s going on in these emails, and I won’t apologize,” he said. “It’s shameful. But I’m a good person. I believe it. I go to church. I’ve been married for 31 years. I have three grown boys. I still love football. mistakes. But I don’t think anyone here hasn’t. And I just apologize and hopefully get another chance.
Gruden’s emails, which contained racist, anti-gay and misogynistic language, were first revealed in a Wall Street Journal article on Oct. 8. He was on the sidelines for the Raiders over the weekend, and The New York Times ran an article on Oct. 8. 11 containing additional emails. Gruden, who had signed a 10-year contract worth $100 million to leave ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” booth and return to the Raiders in 2018, resigned that night.
The emails came to light during an NFL investigation into working conditions with the Washington franchise as Gruden sent messages with then-Washington executive Bruce Allen.
The NFL, according to the lawsuit, had been in possession of the emails since June 2021.
“Ask the NFL,” Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN at the time. “They have all the answers.”
Gruden’s lawsuit claimed “tortious interference” by the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell, who selectively leaked his emails to force his removal.
Of the 650,000 emails collected as part of the investigation, according to the lawsuit, Gruden’s were the only ones made public. They were also written when he was an employee of ESPN.
On May 25, Nevada Judge Nancy L. Allf ruled in favor of Gruden, opening the possibility of a jury trial, denying the NFL’s motion to compel arbitration as well as the league’s motion to dismiss the case purely and simply.
Speaking in Little Rock on Tuesday, Gruden had tears in his eyes as the crowd cheered him on.
“I’m smothered, you know, because there’s a lot of misunderstandings going on right now,” he said. “What you read, what you hear, what you watch on TV. Shit, I worked at ESPN for nine years. I worked hard at this job. I don’t even want to watch the channel anymore because I don’t believe everything is true. And I know a lot of it is about trying to get people to watch. But I think we have to come back to reality.
Following Gruden’s resignation, the Raiders, under interim coach Rich Bisaccia, went 7-5, winning their last four games to finish 10-7 and claim the team’s second-ever playoff spot. 2002. But after losing a wild card game to the eventual AFC Bengals champion Cincinnati, Davis replaced Bisaccia and general manager Mike Mayock with longtime New England Patriots staffer Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler, respectively.