Jon Gruden was certainly not lacking in support in his locker room after a 2011 email using racist language was unearthed last week. Gruden apologized this weekend for the email to then-Washington GM Bruce Smith – in which he said NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith “has lips the size of michellin tires.”
On Sunday, several players on the team spoke out in favor of the head coach.
“I’ve been around this guy for three years now; I’ve never felt a certain type of way about him,” Raiders running back Josh Jacobs said, per ESPN.
“He’s never rubbed me a certain way, that type of way. I mean, what he said is what he said at the end of the day too. But I mean, I definitely trust him. I mean, it was 10 years ago. People grow.”
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who is second in the NFL in passing yards, shared the same sentiment.
“Us as a team, we’re like, ‘Yeah, Coach, it was 10 years ago. We love you, man. We got your back,’” Carr said. “We’re just trying to be there to support Coach. I know it’s a hard time for him. … He told us, ‘Men, learn from my mistake.’ When we left that meeting, we didn’t take it as how it came out.”
Raiders star pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue was asked how the black players on the Raiders were feeling, but he just left wth “No comment on that.”
“All I can say is I’m not a racist,” Gruden said. “I can’t tell you how sick I am. I apologize again to De Smith. But I feel good about who I am, what I’ve done my entire life. And I apologize for the insensitive remarks I had. I had no racial intentions with those remarks at all. … I’m not like that at all. But I apologize.
“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 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 the rest of my life. And, again, I apologize to De Smith and anybody out there I have offended.”
The conversation has since changed after Gruden stepped down as head coach following the release of even more emails this week.
Carr, as well as other teammates, were once again asked about his now former head coach.
Hall of Fame wide receiver Tim Brown believed his former coach on what he said about DeMaurice Smith, because he’s heard him use the term before.
“I’ve heard Jon use the term rubber lips before, meaning that this guy’s double-talking, or he’s doing whatever,” Brown said, as transcribed by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “That’s just a term that he uses.”
Brown added that he has never experienced anything That indicated Gruden is racist.
“Never, ever, have I gotten anything from him that made me even pause, to think about, ‘Hmm, that didn’t come off right,’” Brown said. “I think if you know Gruden, if you know anything about him, or if you’ve been around him, especially for the length of time that I’ve been knowing him, then you would have gotten a hint that this guy is not right. There’s something that’s not right about him. There’s no way I would have ever.”
The Raiders are now moving on with hopes of stopping their 2-game skid after starting off the year 3-0.