Jon Gruden is suing the NFL over the events that led to his abrupt resignation as Raiders coach last October. But he’d welcome an opportunity to rejoin the league. Speaking publicly at Arkansas’ Little Rock Touchdown Club on Tuesday, Gruden said he’s “ashamed” about what he wrote in derogatory emails that were exposed during an NFL investigation, but that he seeks forgiveness and wants to return to the sidelines.
“I’m not gonna say anything but honest things here,” Gruden said when asked to address his resignation. “I’m ashamed about what has come about in these emails, and I’ll make no excuses for it. It’s shameful. But I am a good person, I believe that. I go to church. I’ve been married for 31 years. I got three great boys. I still love football. I made some mistakes, but I don’t think anybody else in here hasn’t. And I just ask for forgiveness, and hopefully I get another shot.”
Gruden, of course, is referring to the emails that surfaced in 2021 reports by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, which suggested the coach had engaged in a pattern of misogynistic, homophobic and racially insensitive comments from 2010-2018. Those emails were discovered while the NFL was conducting a separate investigation of the Washington Commanders, who had been punished for a “hostile workplace culture” that included alleged sexual harassment.
“I get choked up, because there’s a lot of misunderstanding out there right now — what you read, what you hear, what you watch on TV,” Gruden said Tuesday, defending his character. His lawsuit against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell allege that the league “sought to destroy (his) career and reputation” through a “malicious and orchestrated campaign” to leak his emails and increase public pressure for his dismissal or resignation.
Gruden spent just over three seasons in his most recent stint as Raiders coach, going 22-31 before his resignation. He previously spent four years with the team from 1998-2001 but is best known for a seven-year run as the Buccaneers‘ coach, during which he led three playoff runs and won a Super Bowl.