The NFL and Las Vegas Raiders are investigating the use of racist imagery in an email exchange by head coach Jon Gruden from 10 years ago when he was working as a broadcaster for ESPN. No discipline is imminent, according to team and league sources, and Gruden is set to coach the team this weekend.
The email came to light in the Wall Street Journal on Friday and was unearthed by investigators who were probing the toxic culture of the Washington Football Team, with Gruden corresponding with then Washington team president Bruce Allen about NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, who is Black. The Raiders just became aware of the email Friday, sources said, with the league also providing some other emails to the team for review.
The league office is taking the matter seriously, as Friday's statement suggested, but there are numerous factors involved in the discovery that are unusual from many situations. Gruden was not a team or league employee at the time, it came from a personal email account, and Gruden has suggested he was not using a racist trope in his commentary about Smith. Sources said the Raiders made no immediate suggestion that his job status was in any jeopardy. Allen is a former executive with the Raiders and Buccaneers who worked closely with Gruden.
Some close to Commissioner Roger Goodell believe that ultimately a hefty fine and further diversity and inclusion training will be forthcoming, with a suspension less likely, based on the numerous mitigating circumstances. But they also suggested that there are not many comparable situations to this, and that other evidence could necessarily lead to a more intense punishment.
Raiders players have yet to be in a position to speak much with reporters about the incident, and the team has yet to play a game since the remarks became public as well. Gruden has a long history with the Raiders and is in his second stint with the organization, previously working under the late Al Davis and now his son, Mark.
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