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Raiders head coach compares Black man’s lips to “tires” in leaked email

Coach Jon Gruden apologized for comparing DeMaurice Smith’s facial features to tires.

Jon Gruden Getty Images

The head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders is coming under fire for making racist remarks to describe DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, in a 2011 email.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Jon Gruden reportedly spoke about Smith’s facial features, writing, “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires.” Since the email surfaced on Friday (Oct. 8), the NFL quickly released a statement rebuking the comments. “The email from Jon Gruden denigrating DeMaurice Smith is appalling, abhorrent and wholly contrary to the NFL’s values,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. “We condemn the statement and regret any harm that its publication may inflict on Mr. Smith or anyone else.”

Raiders owner Mark Davis said in a statement Gruden’s email, which was written during the NFL lockout, does not reflect the team’s standards.

“The content of an email regarding DeMaurice Smith from Jon Gruden when he worked for ESPN 10 years ago is disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for,” Davis said. “We were first made aware of the email late yesterday by a reporter and are reviewing it along with other materials provided to us today by the NFL. We are addressing the matter with Coach Gruden and will have no further comment at this time.”

On Friday, Gruden, who was a broadcaster at the time of the email, issued an apology. “I’m really sorry,” he said. He also stated that he calls liars “rubber lips,” but doesn't think Smith is one. “I don’t think he’s dumb. I don’t think he’s a liar,” he told the Journal. “I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven that for 58 years.”

Smith, however, believes that this won’t be the last racist comment that he will be faced with. “Racism like this comes from the fact that I’m at the same table as they are and they don’t think someone who looks like me belongs,” he said.

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