DeMaurice Smith opens up on Jon Gruden, racism in the NFL and more

In a rare occasion, DeMaurice Smith found himself speechless.

The NFL Players Association’s executive director – a former trial lawyer – usually can render an extensive (and sometimes long-winded) answer on just about any topic or matter of debate.

But finding the words to sum up the range of emotions that he experienced during a mentally draining week proved challenging.

Smith learned last Wednesday that he was the subject of a disparaging, 10-year-old email chain of communication between now-former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden and associates. The coach – working as an analyst for ESPN at the time – slammed Smith with racist criticisms of his physical features and his intelligence. And after news first reported by the Wall Street Journal broke, Gruden insisted that he was not a racist.

Smith watched as the reactions to Gruden’s behavior ranged from criticism from some in the NFL community to displays of loyalty as others defended the coach.

On Monday, additional details of the emails – some containing homophobic and misogynistic language – between Gruden and associates leaked. By night’s end, Gruden had resigned as the Raiders’ head coach.

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