DeMaurice Smith is speaking out on Jon Gruden’s racist email scandal.
“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of Michellin tires,” Jon Gruden, the now resigned coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, wrote in a 2011 email to the former team president of Washington, D.C.’s football team.
DeMaurice Smith, Executive Director of the National Football League Players Association, spoke about Gruden one-on-one with HBO’s Bryant Gumbel to discuss the recent developments triggered by the publication of emails sent by Jon Gruden.
Their conversation below:
BRYANT GUMBEL: You’ve spoken with Jon Gruden over the years. When you first saw it, shock you, surprise you?
DEMAURICE SMITH: First of all I would say it was more shocking that a group of people, apparently in an email conversation, felt that it was comfortable enough to engage in a conversation like that that certainly denigrated me and – and people who look like me, but also revelations about what those conversations included. Shocked to see it, but I’m not naïve enough to believe that there aren’t people out there who are doing this.
It hurt me that my family had to see this. There’s always this need to somehow reduce you to something less than you are. Everybody who smiles in your face on the front end isn’t saying something behind your back on the other.
BRYANT GUMBEL: I’m not eager to minimize what Gruden did, but the bigger issue is the idea that he felt comfortable saying what he did in the forum in which he said it.
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DEMAURICE SMITH: That’s it. That’s it. And to me, the next iteration of that conversation is he felt comfortable enough to say it with the people that he was on the email chain with. But the next step of that is of course the people who defended him or gave him a pass on Sunday who look more like us than like him.
BRYANT GUMBEL: Right. You’re speaking specifically of broadcasters of color who basically apologized for Jon Gruden and gave him a pass.
DEMAURICE SMITH: It’s abhorrent to think that a group of people are on that email chain being comfortable saying that. It’s equally abhorrent to me to see a group of people defend it, knowing that they live in this legacy of America’s past. They live in this hope of America’s future. We can’t be truly hopeful when those people continue to excuse or apologize for something.
DEMAURICE SMITH: There are certain people that have– have and have had a plantation mentality in this league. I think it would be unfair to sweep everybody up in this. But– I guess my– my point is for the people in this league, and I’m talking primarily of ownership, who believe that this league should be something better– they’re going to have an opportunity to match actions to their words. And if they refuse to do that, my message to some of them that I’ve made and– and now the message to them publicly is, “Your refusal to step up to the plate and demand– an investigation or demand the release of– of any evidence of– impropriety will speak volumes about whether you indeed– believe in this– in this racist mentality or this plantation mentality or– or even worse, whether you believe that the National Football League can be a better part of itself.”
HBO’s REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL returns TONIGHT at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT and is available on HBO and to stream on HBO Max.
I wonder if Gruden will be tuning in?