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A bunch of Las Vegas Raiders players have leapt to the defence of head coach Jon Gruden after a 'racist' email from 2011 emerged online.
In the email sent from over a decade ago, Gruden told then-Washington GM Bruce Smith that NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith "has lips the size of Michelin tires".
When the racial slur surfaced last week, Gruden was on the receiving end of a fair bit of backlash and has since been forced to issue an apology.
NFL officials were also quick to condemn the veteran Super Bowl-winner, calling his comments "appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL's values".
But while Gruden has held his hands up and accepted his wrongdoing, some of his own players have now spoke out in favour of their coach.
"Us as a team, we're like, 'Yeah, Coach, it was 10 years ago. We love you, man. We got your back,'" Raiders quarterback Derek 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."
The email from Jon Gruden - and some of the reaction to it - confirms that the fight against racism, racist tropes and intolerance is not over. 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.- DeMaurice Smith (@demauricesmith) October 11, 2021
The NFL sent the Raiders additional Jon Gruden emails to review on top of the negative one that surfaced last week and, per sources around the league, the NFL is actively monitoring the situation and waiting to see how the team will handle the matter.- Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 11, 2021
There's no alternative here. The @Raiders have to fire Jon Gruden, and the @nflcommish must suspend him for five years or more.- Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 12, 2021
There is racism and it turns out much more: there's homophobia and toxic "masculinity."
Gruden, out, now. https://t.co/S3xUlMymtG pic.twitter.com/btsAhDJDuR
So Jon Gruden's racist email against NFLPA exec director DeMaurice Smith is exposed and I see more NFL people defending Gruden than defending Smith. Kind of gives the game away.- Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) October 11, 2021
Star running back Josh Jacobs echoed his quarterback's remarks.
"I've been around this guy for three years now; I've never felt a certain type of way about him," Jacobs said.
"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."
Despite apologising for his actions and garnering the support of some of his players, Gruden's name is still in the spotlight as a result of the controversial email with a bunch of big-name personalities having their say on the matter.
"All I can say is I'm not a racist," Gruden said.
Jon Gruden said earlier today that he's "learned a lot" from the reaction to his racist email that was made public on Friday. This was before the latest batch of emails that were just released.- Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) October 12, 2021
"I can't tell you how sick I am. I apologise again to De Smith. But I feel good about who I am, what I've done my entire life. And I apologise 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 apologise.
"I can't remember a lot of the things that transpired 10 or 12 years ago, but I stand here in front of everybody apologising. 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 apologise to De Smith and anybody out there I have offended."
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