Jeff Fisher has joined the chorus of teams, players and contemporaries lambasting former Raiders coach Jon Gruden for the content of emails he exchanged with former 2010 Washington football president Bruce Allen. to 2018.
Fisher particularly opposed Gruden’s belief that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell forced him – then St. Louis Rams coach – to draft Michael Sam, simply because he turned out to be gay before the 2014 NFL Draft. Gruden, in an email to Allen, said the NFL shouldn’t have forced him to write “q-rs.”
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Fisher responded to that claim on Tuesday night, saying he received no pressure from the league. He also explained why St. Louis took Sam with his penultimate draft pick and bolstered his support for the 2014 seventh-round selection:
Sam, SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, had 47 tackles, 18 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, two defenses, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovered for a touchdown that season. It was a year in which his Missouri Tigers went 12-2 and made it into the SEC Championship game. He played with the St. Louis and Dallas practice teams in 2014 before spending some time in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes in 2015.
“As a head coach for over 20 years, we have drafted or not drafted players based on various qualities,” Fisher wrote of his drafting practices. “Their sexual orientation would never – and never should – play a role in the decision-making process.”
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Sam was not the only target of Gruden’s hate speech. The former Buccaneers and Raiders coach – who sent the emails while he was a color analyst for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” – also used a racist trope to describe the former NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, made fun of Caitlyn Jenner after her transition and used several homophobic slurs to describe Goodell, the league owners and the journalists who cover the league.
Gruden announced his resignation as coach of the Raiders on Monday following the New York Times report on the emails, which were discovered by the NFL as part of a malpractice investigation of Allen.
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Other people who have denounced Gruden in the wake of the email leaks are his former team, the Buccaneers, and former wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. The NFL and Raiders also took issue with the first email revealed on Friday, when Gruden told Allen: “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of michellin (sic) tires.”
Fisher, who began his NFL head coaching career in 1994 with the Houston Oilers, coached 22 years in the league. This includes a five-year stint with the Rams, both in St. Louis and Los Angeles. He went 173-165-1 as a head coach, including 31-45 with the Rams. He last coached the NFL in 2016.