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By JOSH DUBOW
Jon Gruden has resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after emails he sent before being hired in 2018 contained racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments.
Gruden released a statement Monday night, saying: “I have resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
He stepped down after The New York Times reported that Gruden frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language directed at Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the NFL.
The NFL Network first reported the development.
It was a rapid downfall for Gruden, who is in the fourth year of a 10-year, $100 million contract he signed with the Raiders in 2018. It started on Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden used a racist term to describe NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email to former Washington executive Bruce Allen.
The emails were discovered in a workplace misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team but ended up costing Gruden his job when they also showed Gruden denounced the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem among other issues.
Gruden apologized for his “insensitive remarks” about Smith, saying they were made out of frustration over the 2011 lockout. But the latest emails sent from between 2011-18 when Gruden was an analyst for ESPN show his use of derogatory language went well beyond that.
A league source confirms the accuracy of the emails and said they were sent to the Raiders last week. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t made the emails public.
Raiders owner Mark Davis said last week that the email about Smith was “disturbing and not what the Raiders stand for” and said the team was reviewing the additional emails.
The Times reported that Gruden used a gay slur to insult Goodell and said he was “clueless” and “anti-football.” He also said Goodell shouldn’t have pressured the Rams to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.
Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay in June and is the first openly gay player to appear in an NFL game.
In a 2017 email, the Times said Gruden responded to a sexist meme of a female official by saying: “Nice job roger.”
The paper also said Gruden criticized Goodell and the NFL league for trying to reduce concussions, and said that Eric Reid, a player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired.
The newspaper said Gruden also mocked an article in 2017 about players calling on Goodell to support their efforts promoting racial equality and criminal justice reform.
“He needs to hide in his concussion protocol tent,” Gruden wrote.
Gruden and Allen have a long relationship, having worked together in Oakland and Tampa Bay. The emails between the two and other men included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders.
Gruden also criticized President Barack Obama during his re-election campaign in 2012, and then-vice president Joe Biden.
Smith said earlier Monday that he appreciates that Gruden reached out to him following the initial report, but that the email is evidence that the fight against racism is ongoing.
“But make no mistake, the news is not about what is said in our private conversation, but what else is said by people who never thought they would be exposed and how they are going to be held to account,” Smith wrote in a Twitter thread.
Gruden’s comments to Allen about Smith came during the 2011 lockout of the players by the NFL. Gruden told the Wall Street Journal he was angry about the lockout during labor negotiations and he didn’t trust the direction the union was taking.
“Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin tires,” Gruden wrote in the email reviewed by the newspaper.
Davis had been trying to hire Gruden almost since he took charge following the death of his father, Al, in 2011. He finally got his prize in 2018 when Gruden agreed to leave ESPN and return to the sideline with a 10-year contract. Gruden had revived the Raiders in is first stint in 1998-2001 and then beat them in the Super Bowl the following season after he was traded to Tampa Bay for a boatload of draft picks.
Gruden has a 117-112 career record but hasn’t won a playoff game since the Super Bowl victory over the Raiders in the 2002 season.
His second tenure with the team started with a pep rally introductory news conference but provided few reasons for celebration as Gruden had a 22-31 record, failing to reach a winning record or make the playoffs.
He traded away stars Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper in his first season to start a rebuild, which has showed only minor progress. After the Raiders went 4-12 in his first season, Gruden tried to make a push in 2019 in the team’s final season in Oakland by spending heavily in free agency and trading for star receiver Antonio Brown. But Brown was cut before the season after a series of run-ins with management, and the Raiders went 7-9.
They improved to 8-8 last season and got off to a promising 3-0 start this year before losing the past two games.
There is no immediate word on who will take over as interim coach. The Raiders have three former NFL head coaches on staff: defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, defensive line coach Rod Marinelli, and offensive line coach Tom Cable, who was the team’s head coach from 2008-2010, going 17-27. Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia is the assistant head coach.
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report
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PONTOON BEACH, Ill. – Someone hit the jackpot at Casey’s General Store in Pontoon Beach, Illinois. The Illinois Lottery reports that a player matched all five numbers Sunday night. The winning “Lucky Day Lotto” ticket is worth $800,000.
Jackpots in the Lucky Day Lotto game start at $100,00 and increase in size until someone matches all five numbers. The game costs one dollar to play and the chances of hitting the jackpot are around one in 1,221,759. This makes it one of the best odds of any Illinois Lottery draw game.
ST. LOUIS – Five people were treated following a fire at an apartment building on the 5800 block of Selber Court in north St. Louis.
Our partners at the Post-Dispatch report a mother tossed her 3-year-old daughter from a second-story window to a neighbor on the ground at the Hillvale apartments.
The fire department says one of those patients includes a child. Three people were taken to the hospital.
The paper also says the fire started in a vacant, boarded-up unit. The Bomb and Arson squad was called to the scene as well.
Firefighters can be seen on the roof trying to knock out the flames. There is also smoke pouring out of the roof.
Bommarito Automotive SkyFOX is over the scene. Authorities appeared to be walking with at least one resident who made it out of the burning building.
The Red Cross is helping 3 residents.
By DON BABWIN
CHICAGO (AP) — Jussie Smollett staged a racist and homophobic assault and told police he was the victim after the television studio where he worked didn’t take hate mail he had received seriously, a prosecutor said during opening statements in the ex-“Empire” actor’s trial Monday.
Smollett has maintained he was the victim in the January 2019 attack in downtown Chicago. But special prosecutor Dan Webb said the actor recruited two brothers he worked with to help him carry out the fake attack. He then reported it to Chicago police, who classified it as a hate crime and spent 3,000 hours on the investigation.
“When he reported the fake hate crime that was a real crime,” Webb said.
Two brothers say Smollett paid them $3,500 to pose as his attackers on a frigid night in January 2019.
Webb was named as special prosecutor in the case after Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office dropped the original charges filed against Smollett. A new indictment was returned in 2020.
Smollett, who arrived at the courthouse in Chicago Monday with his mother and other family members, is accused of lying to police about the alleged attack and has been charged with felony disorderly conduct. The class 4 felony carries a prison sentence of up to three years, but experts have said it is likely that if Smollett is convicted he would be placed on probation and perhaps ordered to perform community service.
Twelve jurors plus three alternate jurors were sworn in late Monday in a trial Judge James Linn said he expects to take about one week. During jury selection, Linn asked potential jurors if they have been the victim of a hate crime, if they have watched “Empire” or TMZ, a program and website about celebrities, or if they belong to any civil rights or pro-police organizations. Cameras are not allowed inside the courtroom and the proceedings are not being livestreamed, unlike in other recent high-profile trials.
Whether Smollett, who is Black and gay, will testify remains an open question. But the siblings, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, will take the witness stand where they are expected to repeat what they have told police officers and prosecutors: that they carried out the attack at Smollett’s behest.
Jurors also may see surveillance video from more than four dozen cameras that police reviewed to trace the brothers’ movements before and after the reported attack, as well as a video showing the brothers purchasing a red hat, ski masks and gloves from a beauty supply shop hours earlier.
Smollett’s attorneys have not spelled out how they will confront that evidence. Lead attorney Nenye Uche declined to comment ahead of this week’s proceedings. But there are clues as to how they might during the trial.
Buried in nearly 500 pages of Chicago Police Department reports is a statement from an area resident who says she saw a white man with “reddish brown hair” who appeared to be waiting for someone that night. She told a detective that when the man turned away from her, she “could see hanging out from underneath his jacket what appeared to be a rope.”
Her comments could back up Smollett’s contention that his attackers draped a makeshift noose around his neck. Further, if she testified that the man was white, it would support Smollett’s statements — widely ridiculed because the brothers, who come from Nigeria, are Black — that he saw pale or white skin around the eyes of one of his masked attackers.
Given there is so much evidence, including the brothers’ own statements, that they participated in the attack, it is unlikely that Smollett’s attorneys will try to prove they did not take part. That could lead the defense to contend that Smollett was the victim of a very real attack at the hands of the brothers, perhaps with the help of others, who now are only implicating the actor so they won’t be charged.
The $3,500 check could be key, although Smollett says he wrote it to pay one of the brothers to work as his personal trainer.
“I would assume the defense is going to zero in on that,” said Joe Lopez, a prominent defense attorney not involved with the case.
What they will almost certainly do is attack the brothers’ credibility, reminding jurors that they are not facing the same charges as Smollett, despite admitting they took part in the staged attack.
“Everything Smollett is responsible for, they are responsible for,” said David Erickson, a former state appellate judge who teaches at Chicago Kent College of Law and is not involved in the case.
Finally, Smollett’s career could take center stage. Prosecutors could make the same point that then-Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson made when he announced Smollett’s arrest in 2019: that Smollett thought the attack would win him more fame and a pay raise.
But Lopez said the defense attorneys might ask the jury the same question he asked himself.
“How would that help him with anything?” he asked. “He’s already a star.”
Associated Press reporter Sara Burnett contributed to this report.
Check out the AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.
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