Jon Gruden says emails ‘shameful’ but I’m ‘good person,’ hope to ‘get another shot’

Former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden spoke for the first time publicly about the email controversy that cost him his job last October.

Gruden, who filed a lawsuit against the NFL last year because the league singled him out, spoke Tuesday at Little Rock Touchdown Club in Arkansas.

Gruden, 59, said he will be “honest” with the gathering.

“I am ashamed of what happened in these emails and I will make no apologies for it,” he said. “It’s embarrassing. But I’m a good person. I believe that. I go to church. I’ve been married 31 years. I have three great boys. I still love football. I’ve made some mistakes. But I believe not that anyone in here did. And I just ask for your forgiveness and hopefully I’ll get another chance.”

Gruden’s emails, which contained racist, anti-gay and misogynist language, first came to light in an Oct. 8 article in The Wall Street Journal. He was on the sidelines for the Raiders that weekend, and the New York Times ran an Oct. 11 article that included additional emails. Gruden, who signed a 10-year, $100 million deal to leave ESPN’s Monday Night Football stand 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 when Gruden was texting with then-Washington general manager Bruce Allen.

The NFL, the lawsuit says, had had the emails since June 2021.

“Ask the NFL,” Raiders owner Mark Davis told ESPN at the time. “You have all the answers.”

Gruden’s lawsuit alleged “tortious interference” by the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell in selectively leaking his emails to force his removal.

Of the 650,000 emails collected in the investigation, the lawsuit alleges that Gruden’s were the only ones released. They were also written when he was an ESPN contributor.

On May 25, Nevada Judge Nancy L. Allf ruled in favor of Gruden and opened a jury trial, denying the NFL’s request to compel arbitration and the league’s request to dismiss the case immediately.

Speaking at Little Rock on Tuesday, Gruden brought tears to his eyes as the crowd applauded him.

“I get choking, you know, because there’s a lot of misunderstandings out there right now,” he said. “What you read, what you hear, what you see on TV. Heck, I worked at ESPN for nine years. I worked hard at this 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 this is just trying to get people to watch. But I think we need to get back to reality.

After Gruden’s retirement, the Raiders took a 7-5 lead under caretaker coach Rich Bisaccia, winning their last four games 10-7 to claim the team’s second playoff spot since 2002. But after losing a wildcard round game in the end Davis, the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals, replaced Bisaccia and general manager Mike Mayock with longtime New England Patriots associates Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler, respectively. Jon Gruden says emails ‘shameful’ but I’m ‘good person,’ hope to ‘get another shot’

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