The diversity group that works closely with the NFL was sharply critical Sunday of the racist language used by Las Vegas Raiders Coach Jon Gruden in a 2011 email and called for the league and the Raiders to take appropriate action.
"The insensitive remarks made by Jon Gruden about DeMaurice Smith are indicative of the racism that exist[s] on many levels of professional sports," Rod Graves, the executive director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, said in a statement. "Furthermore, it reveals that the journey for African Americans and other minorities in sports, is riddled with irrepressible mindsets at the highest level. It is our hope that the League and team ownership will address this matter with a remedy commensurate with these painful words. This is yet another inflection point in a society fraught with cynical social blinders, absent of respect for the intellectual capacity and leadership of minorities. When will it end?"
The NFL said Friday that it condemns the language used by Gruden in the email. The league declined to comment then on the possibility of taking disciplinary action against Gruden.
"All I can say is I'm not a racist," Gruden said in his postgame news conference Sunday. "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. . . . I'm not like that at all. But I apologize. I don't want to keep addressing it."
Gruden said he had not been contacted by the NFL about the matter.
"I have not had any contacts with them yet," he said. "But we'll see what happens here in the next few days."
Gruden, speaking following the Raiders' 20-9 loss to the Chicago Bears in Las Vegas, was asked what he expects to happen in that regard.
"I'm not going to answer all these questions today," Gruden said. "I think I've addressed it already. I can't remember a lot of the things that transpired 10 or 12 years ago. But I stand here in front of everybody apologizing. I know I don't have an ounce of racism in me. I'm a guy that takes pride in leading people together, and I'll continue to do that for the rest of my life. And again, I apologize to De Smith and anybody out there that I have offended."
The issue that the NFL will face if it attempts to impose discipline on Gruden under the personal conduct policy is that Gruden did not work in the league in July 2011 when he sent the email to Bruce Allen with racist language disparaging Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association. Gruden was employed at the time by ESPN.
Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a statement Friday that the content of Gruden's email was "disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for." Davis said the Raiders were made aware Thursday night of the email and received "other materials" Friday from the NFL. The NFL declined to comment Saturday on the details of those additional materials.
Gruden said in multiple interviews that he did not recall writing the email but would be accountable for it. He said he was sorry for it. Gruden reportedly addressed the issue with Raiders players before the email first was reported Friday by the Wall Street Journal. The Journal reported that Gruden wrote to Allen, "Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires."
Gruden told ESPN that the additional materials sent by the league to the Raiders include emails in which he used a vulgarity to describe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and criticized several team owners. Gruden reiterated that he was upset at the time about the 4½-month lockout of the players by the owners.
Allen was the team president of the franchise now known as the Washington Football Team in 2011. The NFL said league officials reviewed more than 650,000 emails, including Gruden's to Allen, uncovered by the investigation into workplace misconduct at the organization.