It’s especially appalling to see this type of incident happening within the Raiders organization. Under Al Davis’ guidance, the Raiders were known for inclusion and diversity. The team had always been known for giving high-profile opportunities to racial minorities and women.


Davis appointed Tom Flores to succeed John Madden in 1979, making Flores the league’s first-ever minority head coach. In 1989, Davis made Art Shell the first Black head coach in professional football history. And Davis named a woman, Amy Trask, to the position of team CEO in 1997. Davis wouldn’t have given a rat’s ass that Gruden’s comments came before he worked for the Raiders — I don’t believe he would have been OK with any of this.

Now the onus is on the current Raiders owner — Davis’ son Mark — and, ultimately, the NFL. Even if the Raiders do nothing to discipline Gruden, the league can and should step in with some type of disciplinary action. If they’re as committed to diversity and inclusion as they claim to be, this is the perfect opportunity to prove it. Send his ass home for a few games. Send his ass home for the rest of the season. Show us this type of behavior won’t be tolerated, no matter whose watch it’s on. As a head coach, Gruden represents the NFL. Protect the shield. Isn’t that the NFL’s slogan? Well, this is a horrible look for the shield. That is, if they are as genuinely concerned as they claim to be.


As for DeMaurice Smith, he’s chosen to take the high road in response to this story.

“This is not the first racist comment that I’ve heard, and it probably will not be the last.” Smith told the Wall Street Journal. “This is a thick skin job for someone with dark skin, just like it always has been for many people who look like me and work in corporate America. You know people are sometimes saying things behind your back that are racist just like you see people talk and write about you using thinly coded and racist language.


“Racism like this comes from the fact that I’m at the same table as they are, and they don’t think someone who looks like me belongs. I’m sorry my family has to see something like this, but I would rather they know. I will not let it define me.”

In the following days and weeks, NFL fans will be watching to see how the NFL handles this story. It has also come out that Gruden made disparaging remarks about Commissioner Roger Goodell in the same 2011 emails. The exact comments Gruden made about Goodell have not been made public (yet), but those will almost surely be “leaked” eventually. Maybe that’s what it’ll take for the NFL to care.