Jon Gruden resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday, hours after The New York Times published emails in which he made homophobic and misogynistic remarks, following an earlier report of racist remarks about a union leader.
His resignation marked a dramatic departure from the NFL for a coach who had won a Super Bowl, been a prominent analyst on ESPN, and returned to the league in 2018 to lead the resurgent Raiders, whom he had coached for years.
“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” he said on Twitter, according to a team statement. “I adore the Raiders and do not wish to be a nuisance.”
Thank you to all of the Raider Nation players, coaches, staff, and fans. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”
The Raiders’ owner, Mark Davis, issued a statement saying he accepted the resignation. The Raiders’ special teams coordinator, Rich Bisaccia, has been promoted to interim head coach, according to the team.
Gruden resigned after the New York Times reported that, as part of a separate workplace misconduct investigation that did not directly involve him.
NFL officials discovered that Gruden had casually and frequently unleashed misogynistic and homophobic language over several years to denigrate people around the game and to mock some of the league’s momentous changes.
According to emails obtained by The Times, he criticized the emergence of women as referees, the selection of a gay player, and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem.
While working for ESPN as a color analyst during “Monday Night Football,” Gruden sent messages to Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington Football Team, and others.
In the emails, Gruden referred to the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, as a “faggot” and a “clueless anti-football pussy,” and said Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, the Rams’ then-coach, to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player selected by the team in 2014.
Throughout a seven-year period ending in early 2018, Gruden chastised Goodell and the league for attempting to reduce concussions and suggested that Eric Reid, a player who had protested during the playing of the national anthem, be fired.
In several instances, Gruden used a homophobic slur to refer to Goodell, as well as offensive language to describe some NFL owners, coaches, and journalists.
Requests for comment from Gruden, Allen, the NFL, and the Raiders were not returned.
Even though he was not coaching a team at the time, Gruden was still influential in the league and highly sought after as a coach. Following the 2002 season, he won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In 2018, he was hired for his second stint as head coach of the Raiders, who include defensive lineman Carl Nassib, the first active NFL player to publicly declare his homosexuality.
The league announced last week that it shared emails with the Raiders in which Gruden made disparaging remarks.
On Sunday, Gruden told ESPN that the league was reviewing emails in which he criticized Goodell, and that he was upset about team owners’ lockout of the players in 2011, when some of the emails were written.
In that interview, Gruden stated that he used an expletive to refer to Goodell and that he did so because he disagreed with Goodell’s emphasis on safety, which he believed was scaring parents away from football.
Gruden’s behavior, however, was not limited to 2011. Gruden sent emails to Allen and other men containing photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one of two Washington team cheerleaders.
During his re-election campaign in 2012, Gruden also criticized President Obama, as well as then-Vice President Joseph R. Biden, whom he called a “nervous clueless pussy.”
He used similar language to describe Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the National Football League Players Association.
The league is already looking into Gruden after another email he sent to Allen in 2011 in which he used racist terms to describe Smith, who is Black.
Gruden, who is white and worked for ESPN at the time, criticized Smith’s intelligence and used a racist trope to describe his face in that email. The Wall Street Journal broke the story first, and The New York Times confirmed it.
Taken together, the emails provide an unvarnished look into the clubby culture of one National Football League circle of peers, where white male decision makers felt comfortable sharing pornographic images, mocking league policies, and jokingly using homophobic language.
Their banter contradicts the league’s public condemnations of racism and sexism, as well as its promises to be more inclusive in the face of criticism for not listening to the concerns of Black players, who make up roughly 70% of rosters.
The National Football League has previously struggled to discipline personnel who have committed acts of domestic violence and has been chastised for failing to adequately address harassment of women, including N.F.L. cheerleaders.
When Gruden’s comments about Smith surfaced, the league, Smith, and Davis all condemned them, but the coach still led his team in their game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
Gruden stated on Friday that he had no recollection of sending the email and that his language “went too far,” adding, “I never had a blade of racism in me.”
Gruden’s emails to Allen, who was fired by the Washington Football Team at the end of 2019, were reviewed as part of a National Football League investigation into workplace misconduct within the franchise that concluded this summer.
During the last few months, Goodell directed league executives to review over 650,000 emails, including those in which Gruden made offensive remarks. Last week, Goodell received a summary of their findings, and the league forwarded some of Gruden’s emails to the Raiders.
Gruden used his personal email account in the exchanges, while Allen used his team email account. In some cases, Allen started the conversation and Gruden joined in, while in others, they exchanged vulgar remarks several times.
Some of Gruden and Allen’s emails also included business acquaintances such as Ed Droste, the co-founder of Hooters; Jim McVay, an executive who has run the Outback Bowl, which is held annually in Tampa, Fla.; and Nick Reader, the founder of PDQ Restaurants, a Tampa-based fried chicken franchise.
The squabbles began in 2010, when Gruden was a “Monday Night Football” analyst. He agreed to a 10-year, $100 million contract with the Raiders in 2018.
Image by APRead on New York Times