Raiders coach Jon Gruden used racist remark to describe NFL players union head, WSJ says

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  • The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Las Vegas Raiders coach John Gruden used a racist remark to describe the head of the National Football League Players Association.
  • Gruden used racist, anti-black imagery to describe NFLPA Executive Director Demoris Smith in an email sent to a team executive on July 21, 2011.
  • The NFL is reviewing Gruden’s situation with the Raiders for possible discipline, a source familiar with the matter told the Journal.

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Las Vegas Raiders coach John Gruden used racist language to describe the head of the National Football League Players Association, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

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According to the Journal, in an email sent to a team executive on July 21, 2011, Gruden used racist, anti-black imagery to describe NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.

“Dumboris Smith’s lips are the size of Michelin tyres,” Gruden wrote in an email to Bruce Allen, the former president of the franchise, now known as the Washington Football Team, the Journal reported.

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The NFL is reviewing Gruden’s situation with the Raiders for possible discipline, a source familiar with the matter told the Journal.

The same day Gruden sent the email, the NFL and its players were attempting to resolve the lockdown, the Journal reported. This was a work moratorium imposed by the league’s owners, which ran from March 12, 2011 to July 25, 2011.

While the owners of the NFL voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement on July 21, the players opted out of the vote.

According to the Journal, Gruden cited the lockdown to harass him at the time of his racist comments. He said he did not trust the stance of the NFL players, who were led by Smith in the talks.

Gruden said he referred to people he believed to be lying in the past as having “rubber lips,” and he took it “too far,” according to the Journal.

“I was upset,” Gruden told the Journal. “I used a terrible way of explaining it.”

“I don’t think he’s dumb. I don’t think he’s a liar,” Gruden said. “I don’t have a racial bone in my body, and I’ve proven it for 58 years.”

In response to Gruden’s remarks, Smith said it was not the first racist comment he has been subject to and “probably won’t be the last.”

“It’s a task for someone with darker skin to have a thicker skin, just as it is for many people who look like me and work in corporate America,” Smith said in a statement. “You know people are sometimes behind your back saying things that are racist like you see people talk about you and use thin coded and racist language.”

Smith’s position as executive director of the NFLPA hangs in the balance as Gruden’s newly revealed remarks.

On Tuesday night, the NFLPA’s executive committee voted to determine whether Smith should be allowed to continue in office for the past 12 years, ESPN reported on Wednesday. The 14-member committee was equally divided in 7-7 votes.

According to ESPN, the NFLPA’s 32 team player representatives are set to vote on Smith’s position on Friday at 6 p.m. ET.

CNBC’s Jabri Young

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