Jon Gruden has spoken publicly for the first time about the leaked emails that led to his departure as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
The 59-year-old resigned last October after the Wall Street Journal revealed emails from Gruden that contained racist, homophobic and misogynistic language. Gruden has filed a lawsuit against the NFL saying he was singled out for blame over the incident.
The suit alleges that the NFL had been in possession of the emails since June 2021 after an investigation into workplace conditions at Washington’s football team. It further alleges that there were 650,000 emails collected during the investigation but Gruden’s were the only ones made public. In May, a Nevada judge ruled in favour of Gruden, opening up the possibility of a jury trial.
“I’m ashamed about what has come about in these emails, and I’ll make no excuses for it,” Gruden said at the Little Rock Touchdown Club on Tuesday. “It’s shameful. But, I am a good person. I believe that. I go to church. I’ve been married for 31 years. I’ve got three great boys. I still love football. I’ve made some mistakes. But I don’t think anybody in here hasn’t. And I just ask for forgiveness and, hopefully, I get another shot.”
Gruden was applauded by the crowd on Tuesday night during his speech, and was visibly emotional.
“I get a choked up, you know, because there’s a lot of misunderstanding out there right now,” he said. “What you read, what you hear, what you watch on TV. Hell, I worked at ESPN for nine years. I worked hard at that job. I don’t even want to watch the channel anymore because I don’t believe everything is true. And I know a lot of it is just trying to get people to watch. But I think we’ve got to get back to reality.”
Gruden signed a $100m, 10 year contract to coach the Raiders in 2018. He won the Super Bowl as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2002 season.