DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, says one of the main reasons he asked the NFL to release emails from its investigation into the Washington Football team was to determine if the race was a factor in setting decisions was in the league and whether teams were “actively hostile to players who chose to identify themselves in different ways”.
Smith discussed a number of topics during an interview with ESPN’s Bomani Jones Wednesday, including the NFL’s workplace misconduct investigation with the Washington Football team and the reported emails leading to Jon Gruden’s resignation from the Las Vegas Raiders .
Smith’s comments came a day after the NFLPA announced it would formally ask the NFL to release the rest of the 650,000 emails the league collected as part of its investigation. Several emails leaked from this investigation indicated that Gruden used racist, misogynistic, and anti-gay language.
“What interests me – is there any correspondence suggesting that teams make decisions about coaches based on their skin color?” Smith said “The Right Time with Bomani Jones” on the ESPN podcast. “Are you actively hostile to players who have chosen to identify themselves in different ways? Do you slander people because of their sexual preferences or religious identity?”
One of Gruden’s emails contained a racist comment about Smith, who is Black.
Before Gruden stepped down as Raiders head coach on Monday, Smith tweeted that the email, and some of the responses to it, “confirm that the fight against racism, racist tropics and intolerance is not over beyond the widespread belief of some that people, who look like me can be treated as less. “
Smith reiterated those sentiments during his Wednesday interview with Jones, saying Gruden reached out to him last Saturday, the day after the Wall Street Journal reported on Gruden’s racist comment in a 2011 email. Smith told Jones that he replied by text message hoping to speak to Gruden later that week, but admitted that their weekend exchange took place before Gruden’s resignation.
Smith also insisted on Wednesday that he hopes the NFL and the players union will “adapt our actions to our words” on diversity and inclusion.
“It would be good for our game and for our business – both for the league and the union – to choose to take a turn,” he said. “And we’ve talked about diversity for years, we’ve talked about inclusivity. How can we turn the corner and actually match actions to our words? And when are we going to start blaming people for conforming to what we believe is the acceptable standard for human interaction only? “
Gruden’s resignation came shortly after the New York Times reported that he had used misogynist and homophobic language in numerous emails to Bruce Allen, then President of the Washington Football Team, and others during a seven-year period ending in 2018 came days after Gruden’s ten-year-old emails containing the racist commentary on Smith and vulgar criticism of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Gruden was employed by ESPN as a senior analyst for Monday Night Football at the time the emails were sent.