NFL investigates Raiders head coach Jon Gruden for racist comment about DeMaurice Smith in 2011

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The NFL is investigating Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden for a racist comment sent in 2011 email, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Gruden sent the following email about NFLPA President DeMaurice Smith, per the report:

“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” Gruden wrote per the article by WSJ’s Andrew Beaton.

“I’m really sorry,” Gruden told Beaton regarding the email, telling him he didn’t recall sending it.

The news came out in a WSJ report detailing how the league is examining 650,000 emails.

Smith offered a response on Friday:

“This is not the first racist comment that I’ve heard and it probably will not be the last. This is a thick skin job for someone with dark skin, just like it always has been for many people who look like me and work in corporate America. You know people are sometimes saying things behind your back that are racist just like you see people talk and write about you using thinly coded and racist language.

“Racism like this comes from the fact that I’m at the same table as they are and they don’t think someone who looks like me belongs. I’m sorry my family has to see something like this but I would rather they know. I will not let it define me.”

The NFL released its statement:

The news comes days after an ESPN report Smith’s job could be in jeopardy.

The NFLPA’s executive committee took a vote Tuesday night to determine whether Smith should be allowed to remain in the job he has held for the past 12 years, sources said. According to the NFLPA’s constitution, a unanimous approval vote by the 14-member committee would have kept Smith in the job, likely on a new three-year contract. However, the vote was evenly split at 7-7, sources said.

Smith’s job status is now in the hands of the NFLPA’s 32 team player representatives, who have a conference call vote tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. ET Friday. If 22 of the 32 player reps vote to retain Smith, he will be effectively reelected and would negotiate a new contract. If he does not get 22 votes, the job of NFLPA executive director will be officially open, and other candidates could run for it at the NFLPA’s annual meeting in March.