Racist comment surfaced by Jon Gruden about DeMaurice Smith

Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden used racist terms in 2011 to denounce DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Asso...

Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden used racist terms in 2011 to denounce DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, who is black and now faces union opposition to overtime of his contract.

The email surfaced just hours before player representatives from all 32 teams voted to give Smith a fifth term as union leader, this time without having to hold a general election. Smith was not approved by the union’s selection committee earlier this week, a sign he was facing unusually strong opposition from his own ranks. Some players have accused Smith of being too accommodating with the league.

There’s reason to believe league owners prefer him to stay, and such an inflammatory email, first. reported by the Wall Street Journal and confirmed by the New York Times, complicated the vote of players opposed to Smith.

While Smith has been combative with the NFL at times, he is viewed favorably by many owners who worked closely with him last season to bring players back to the field during the pandemic.

The email was written in 2011 in an exchange between Gruden, who is white and at the time an analyst for ESPN, and Bruce Allen, who was then president of the Washington football team.

“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” Gruden wrote of Smith in the exchange.

The email was discovered during a Washington football team misconduct review that ended this summer. In recent months, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has asked league officials to review more than 650,000 emails, including one that included Gruden’s comment. This week, executives presented a summary of that review to Goodell and shared with him the Raiders emails regarding Gruden.

“Jon Gruden’s email denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, heinous and totally contrary to the values ​​of the NFL,” Brian McCarthy, a league spokesperson, said in a statement.

The league declined to say if Gruden could face disciplinary action.

Black-smith said in a press release that Gruden’s comments are symptomatic of the challenges black Americans face.

“You know people sometimes say racist things behind your back, just like you see people talking and writing about you using racist, lightly coded language,” said Smith, who took over as the union leader in 2009. . “Racism like this comes from the fact that I am at the same table as them and they do not think that someone who looks like me has their place.

Raiders owner Mark Davis called Gruden’s email “disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for.” He added that the team first saw the email on Thursday and is reviewing it “along with other documents provided to us today by the NFL.”

“We are discussing the matter with Coach Gruden and will have no further comment at this time,” said Davis.

Gruden said he didn’t remember the email, but admitted that in 2011 he was angered by stalled union negotiations between the league and the union which led to the owners putting the players away. in lock-out.

“I probably watched De as the villain”, he told The Athletic on Friday. “And I was really upset that there was a lockout.”

He added that “I went too far in calling it Michelin Lips. I never had a blade of racism in me “and he” used a terrible way to insult a guy “.

Gruden said he called Smith but got no response.

Gruden worked in 2011 as an analyst for “Monday Night Football”, three years after leaving a head coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 2018, he signed a 10-year contract to coach the Raiders, while the team was still playing in Oakland, Calif.

Smith faced the biggest leadership challenge in his 12 years as the head of the union. On Tuesday, the union’s selection committee was deadlocked, 7-7, on whether to give Smith a new contract and a fifth term. Four years ago, that same committee voted unanimously to extend Smith’s term.

Smith barely won the approval of two-thirds of the 32 squad reps he needed to avoid an open election, which could have led to more unrest within the union and undermined what was generally a cooperative relationship. with Goodell. In the vote, 22 players voted to extend Smith’s contract, eight opposed and two abstained. In a sign of ambivalence over his leadership, Smith can only get a short-term contract, not a four-year deal.

After the vote, JC Tretter, a center on the Cleveland Browns and union president, said in a statement that Smith “has been transparent with us about his interest in moving on after this term and for the stability and security of our union, he will work with our player leaders to ensure we have a succession plan in place for the next leader. “

Tretter did not say when Smith made the decision to leave after his tenure expired, or how long his tenure would last.

Opposition to Smith stems from lingering resentment over the 10-year labor agreement players ratified in March 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic gripped the country.

Richard Sherman, now with the Buccaneers, and other veteran players were disgusted that Smith, who initially opposed the owners’ insistence on adding a 17th game this season, ended up backing him.

The union’s own executive committee – normally a source of support for Smith – voted against the deal. But the union continued anyway and the agreement was ratified by just 60 votes, garnering 51.5% of the vote among a group of over 2,000 members.

Some players were unhappy that the union only got an additional percentage point of league revenue from the owners in exchange for a 17th game. Others noted that there is no mechanism to reopen the deal before it expires in 2031, which some players see as a concession favorable to owners. The union too agreed to cut benefits for around 400 former players on permanent disability, a decision Smith had to justify later.

Additionally, some players were upset that union leadership approved Smith’s latest extension and wanted to at least hold an open election to consider other candidates.

“For the players this can mean a long period of dissatisfaction with a CBA that was not all they hoped for,” said Robert Boland, who teaches a course on collective bargaining in the professional sports at Penn State University. “It turned into a referendum on Smith’s 12-year term.”

Boland represented Russell Okung, a member of the executive committee who, last March accused Smith and union staff of acting in bad faith by forcing a vote on the labor agreement over the committee’s objections, in violation of the union statutes. Okung also accused the union leadership of trying to muzzle him into exposing the lack of transparency regarding the committee’s negotiations with NFL owners, which began in 2019.

Okung asked the National Labor Relations Board to intervene, but the independent federal agency responsible for protecting employee rights refused. His case, however, turned out to be a harbinger of the discontent that continued into 2021, long before Gruden’s email surfaced.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Racist comment surfaced by Jon Gruden about DeMaurice Smith
Racist comment surfaced by Jon Gruden about DeMaurice Smith
Newsrust - US Top News
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