Jon Gruden resigns: Timeline of events that led to Raiders coach’s downfall
It’s official: the Jon Gruden era is over for the Las Vegas Raiders.
Days after an initial report about a racist comment Gruden made about NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, things escalated for the Raiders head coach to the point that he decided to resign.
What felt like a few weeks’ worth of news actually occurred over the span of just four days, with new developments adding onto the situation at a rapid pace.
As new details continue to be released, here’s the full timeline of the events that led to Gruden’s resignation from his role with the Raiders.
October 8, 2021:
The Wall Street Journal reports on an email Gruden sent in July of 2011, which specifically included a racist comment describing NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith.
Gruden told the Wall Street Journal that he “can’t specifically recall writing the email but apologized for using that language.”
The news led to an NFL statement that read, “The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values. We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else.”
Shortly thereafter, the Raiders released a statement of their own.
“The content of an email regarding DeMaurice Smith from Jon Gruden when he worked for ESPN 10 years ago is disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for,” the team wrote. “We were first made aware of the email late yesterday by a reporter and are reviewing it along with other materials provided to us today by the NFL. We are addressing the matter with Coach Gruden and will have no further comment at this time.”
October 10, 2021:
As the NFL worked through Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season, the Raiders hosted the Chicago Bears at Allegiant Stadium, looking to move to 4-1 on the year in a wide-open AFC West.
Throughout the game, however, the focus was on Gruden, with many wondering about the atmosphere in the locker room and the potential consequences that could be in the works for the Raiders coach.
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More information about Gruden’s emails came out, as ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Gruden’s 2011 emails included “a vulgar criticism” of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The play on the field reflected the overall status of the organization: a disaster.
The Bears took a 14-3 lead into halftime and didn’t look back, ultimately handing the Raiders their second loss of the season in the form of a 20-9 defeat.
After the game, Gruden took center stage as he addressed reporters, and discussed all that had happened in the days leading up to the game.
“I’m not a racist,” Gruden told reporters. “I can’t tell you how sick I am. I apologize again to D Smith, but I feel good about who I am and what I’ve done my entire life.”
“I had no racial intention with those remarks at all. I’m not like that at all. I apologize. I don’t want to keep addressing it.”
Gruden continued to get pressed on the issue, and decided that his answers should suffice.
“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.”
His players supported him, including Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who said his team had his back.
“He was honest,” Carr said. “He was up-front with it, and us as a team were like, ‘Yeah, coach, it was 10 years ago. We love you, man. We’ve got your back.'”
“He told us, ‘Men, learn from my mistake,’” Carr continued. “I don’t want to get into detail with what he said to us, but when we left that meeting, we didn’t take it as how it came out.”
October 11, 2021:
Less than 24 hours after the Raiders’ loss, things continued to get worse in Las Vegas.
First, DeMaurice Smith released a statement related to Gruden’s comments, days after Smith’s tenure as the NFLPA’s executive director was extended.
“The email from Jon Gruden — and some of the reaction to it — confirms that the fight against racism, racist tropes and intolerance is not over. This is not about an email as much as it is about a pervasive belief by some that people who look like me can be treated as less,” Smith said. “The email has also revealed why the comments by some with powerful platforms to explain this away are insidious and hypocritical. It is as if there is a need to protect football above the values of equality, inclusion and respect.”
A few hours later, more of Gruden’s emails came to light as a result of a new report from the New York Times.
According to New York Times reporters Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman, Gruden “denounced the emergence of women as referees, the drafting of a gay player, and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem.”
Gruden reportedly also criticized Goodell for the league’s attempts to reduce concussions, and suggested that one of the players who had demonstrated during the national anthem be fired.
He reportedly called Goodell a homophobic slur on multiple occasions, and used offensive language to describe players, coaches, and reporters, as well.
After the report, the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero broke the news that Gruden would be resigning from his role as the Raiders’ head coach.
“I have resigned as Head Coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” Gruden said in a statement. “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.”
According to the Raiders, Rich Bisaccia will serve as interim head coach in Gruden’s absence.
The move ended Gruden’s second tenure as the Raiders’ head coach, which began when the one-time Super Bowl winner rejoined the franchise ahead of the 2018 NFL season.
Gruden had previously coached the team from 1998 through 2001, before leading the Tampa Buccaneers from 2002 through 2008. His Buccaneers beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl during the 2002 season.
During that hiatus away from the sidelines, Gruden was a prominent fixture on ESPN’s NFL programming, including a center-stage role as an analyst alongside play-by-play man Mike Tirico for ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcasts.
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October 12, 2021:
Less than one day after his resignation, it was announced that Gruden’s presence with another team that he coached would be erased, as well.
In a statement, the Buccaneers revealed that Gruden would be removed from the team’s Ring of Honor, which honored his success from his tenure as the franchise’s head coach that resulted in one Super Bowl win.
“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have advocated for purposeful change in the areas of race relations, gender equality, diversity and inclusion for many years,” the statement read. “While we acknowledge Jon Gruden’s contributions on the field, his actions go against our core values as an organization. Therefore, he will no longer continue to be a member of the Buccaneers Ring of Honor.”
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October 13, 2021:
As more organizations furthered themselves from Gruden amid the controversy, EA Sports announced that the former Raiders head coach would be replaced in the Madden NFL 22 video game with a “generic likeness” in the coming weeks.
“EA Sports is committed to taking action in maintaining a culture of inclusion and equity,” the Madden team wrote in a statement. “Due to the circumstances of Jon Gruden’s resignation, we are taking steps to remove him from Madden NFL 22. We will replace him with a generic likeness via a title update in the coming weeks.”
Time will tell what Gruden’s future holds. But, one thing seems to be guaranteed: he won’t be coaching for the Raiders, or any other NFL team, after the explosion that was created between October 8 and October 11 in 2021.
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