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NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith appreciates Jon Gruden reaching out

Smith said he looks forward to talking to Gruden soon, but that the issues of intolerance in the NFL and society remain.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith on a racist email sent by Jon Gruden about him: “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."
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith on a racist email sent by Jon Gruden about him: “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." [ CHRIS CARLSON | AP ]
Published Oct. 11
Updated Oct. 11

NFL Players Association leader DeMaurice Smith says he appreciates that Raiders coach Jon Gruden reached out to him following the report that Gruden used a racist comment in a email about him 10 years ago.

Smith said in a Twitter thread on Monday that the email reported Friday by the Wall Street Journal that showed Gruden referred in a racist way to Smith’s facial features is evidence that the fight against racism is ongoing.

“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 wrote. “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. The powerful in our business have to embrace that football itself has to be better, as opposed to making excuses to maintain the status quo.”

Smith said he looks forward to talking to Gruden soon, but that the issues of intolerance in the NFL and society remain.

“But make no mistake, the news is not about what is said in our private conversation, but what else is said by people who never thought they would be exposed and how they are going to be held to account,” Smith wrote.

Gruden’s comment in an email to then-Washington team president Bruce Allen came during the 2011 lockout of the players by the NFL. Gruden told the Wall Street Journal he was angry about the lockout during labor negotiations and he didn’t trust the direction the union was taking.

“Dum­b­oriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” Gruden wrote in the email re­viewed by the newspaper.

Gruden has apologized for his “insensitive remarks” and said Monday he has learned from this, but didn’t go into detail.

“I’m not going to rehash the event again, he said. “I think I feel very good about the things that I have learned. I also feel really good about what I stand for. I’ll be happy to talk about football, but I’ll just leave it at that.”