October 25, 2021

Rams’ Sean McVay says he’s ‘surprised’ by Jon Gruden emails

View Original Notice ? Rams’ Sean McVay says he’s ‘surprised’ by Jon Gruden emails

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THOUSAND OAKS — Sean McVay has known Jon Gruden for a long time, since before he started his NFL coaching career on Gruden’s staff in Tampa Bay, one of many professional connections between their families going back decades.

But McVay, now the Rams’ coach, says he didn’t know the bigoted side of Gruden revealed in emails made public in the past week.

“I can only speak on my individual interactions with him,” McVay said Wednesday. “But I have not seen that side of him, and I was surprised by that.”

Gruden resigned as the Las Vegas Raiders’ coach Monday night following reports of his use of racist, misogynistic and anti-gay language in emails between 2011 and 2017.

Uncovered in an NFL investigation of workplace misconduct in the Washington Football Team organization, the emails disparaged players union chief DeMaurice Smith, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the hiring of women referees and the Rams’ 2014 drafting of openly gay defensive end Michael Sam.

The emails, written when Gruden was between coaching jobs and working as an analyst for ESPN, mostly were exchanged with then-Washington president Bruce Allen. But some involved other associates, including Jim McVay, who ran the Outback Bowl. Jim McVay is Sean McVay’s uncle.

Sean McVay opened his regular pre-practice press conference Wednesday with a statement calling the situation “unfortunate” and expressing sympathy for other Raiders employees and families affected by Gruden’s resignation.

Facing questions, McVay said, “(I’m) just sad about it. It’s unfortunate. I just want to really leave it at that.”

Asked if he was sad about the content of the emails, or sad for Gruden, McVay said it was “all of the above.”

“I’m sad for the many people that have been negatively affected, anybody that was offended by this,” McVay said. “It’s kind of a sad commentary all around, and it’s an unfortunate thing that we’re even talking about it right now.”

McVay stopped short of directly condemning or defending Gruden.

Back in 2018, when McVay’s Rams opened the season with a 33-13 victory over Gruden’s then-Oakland Raiders, there was much discussion of their families’ half-century of history and McVay’s Grudenlike vocal mannerisms.

“So much of what I’ve learned about this game has been from his mentorship that he’s provided,” McVay said of Gruden in a 2018 story by ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry.

Gruden talked then about going out of his way in 2008 to hire a then-22-year-old McVay to be the Buccaneers’ assistant wide receivers coach.

The football-immersed families had been connected since McVay’s grandfather John coached Dayton and hired Gruden’s father Jim for his staff in the 1960s, and continued when McVay’s father Tim played defensive back and Jim Gruden was on the staff at Indiana in the ’70s and when John McVay was an executive and Jon Gruden a green assistant coach with the 49ers in the ’90s.

After his Tampa Bay stint, McVay was the offensive coordinator in Washington under Jay Gruden, Jon’s brother, from 2014-16.

McVay said Wednesday he wasn’t contacted by NFL investigators, even though his Washington tenure fell during the period of the Gruden emails. McVay said he hadn’t talked with Gruden since the controversy erupted.

“I like to believe that people are innately good,” McVay said. “I also think that there’s mistakes that people have made, that I’ve made. Nobody’s perfect. I think there’s something to be said for mercy, for grace and for forgiveness.”

McVay, who is white, was asked if he’s confident that the casual bigotry evident in Gruden’s emails with a Washington executive wouldn’t happen with the Rams.

“I’ve been raised to love people, to care about people,” McVay said. “I think one of the great things about this game is you bring people together from a bunch of different backgrounds, and I think there becomes an understanding of then you see people in their purest form and that’s what you love about being able to do this and the different amount of people that I’ve been exposed to.

“I’m really saddened by that. I saw that my uncle was on some of those chains, but I can’t speak on behalf of some of the content. Saddened is an appropriate word, and I’d like to think there’s an atmosphere and environment here that’s about helping people reach their highest potential, having empathy, caring about people, and that’s what I think we’ve displayed and I think that’s what the people that have been in this building would say, and that’s really important to me.”

NOTES

The Rams (4-1) expect them all to be ready to face the New York Giants (1-4) in New Jersey on Sunday, but defensive tackle Aaron Donald missed practice Wednesday after banging a knee during last week’s victory over the Seattle Seahawks, kicker Matt Gay was limited with a sore ankle, and running back Jake Funk was limited with a hamstring injury. … Quarterback Matthew Stafford said the finger he injured in the Seahawks game is “good.” … Giants running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), quarterback Daniel Jones (concussion) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (knee) missed practice.

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