Former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden first spoke publicly about the email controversy that cost him his job last October.
Gruden, who filed a lawsuit against the NFL last year for claiming the league picked him, spoke at the Little Rock Touchdown Club in Arkansas on Tuesday.
Gruden, 59, said he would be “honest” with the meeting.
“I’m ashamed of what happened in these emails and I won’t make any excuses for it,” he said. “It’s embarrassing. But I’m a good person. I believe that. I go to church. I’ve been married for 31 years. I have three great boys. I still love football. I made some mistakes. But I don’t think anyone here hasn’t. And I’m just asking for forgiveness and hopefully I’ll get another chance.”
Gruden’s emails, which contain racist, anti-gay and misogynistic language, were first exposed in a Wall Street Journal article on Oct. 8. He stood on the sidelines for the Raiders that weekend, and The New York Times ran an article on October 11. which contained additional emails. Gruden, who had signed a 10-year contract reportedly worth $100 million to leave ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth and return to the Raiders in 2018, resigned that night.
The emails came to light in an NFL investigation into working conditions at the Washington franchise while Gruden was messaging with then-Washington director Bruce Allen.
The NFL, the lawsuit states, had been in possession of the emails since June 2021.
“Just ask the NFL,” Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN at the time. “They have all the answers.”
Gruden’s lawsuit alleged “wrongful interference” by the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell, that they selectively leaked his emails to force his removal.
Of the 650,000 emails collected during the investigation, the lawsuit says, Gruden’s were the only ones made public. They were also written when he was an ESPN employee.
On May 25, Nevada judge Nancy L. Allf ruled in Gruden’s favor, opening up the possibility of a jury trial, by enforcing the NFL’s request for arbitration, as well as the league’s request to outright dismiss the case. to reject, to refuse.
Speaking in Little Rock on Tuesday, Gruden brought tears to his eyes as the crowd applauded him.
“I’m getting confused, you know, because there’s a lot of misunderstanding 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 on 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 need to get back to reality.”
After Gruden’s resignation, the Raiders, under interim coach Rich Bisaccia, won 7-5, won their last four games and finished 10-7, claiming the team’s second playoff spot since 2002. champion Cincinnati Bengals, Davis replaced Bisaccia and general manager Mike Mayock with longtime New England Patriots staffers Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler, respectively.