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 Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen from 2010 through 2018.
Fisher took particular exception to Gruden’s belief that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell forced him — then coach of the St. Louis Rams — to draft Michael Sam, simply because he came out as gay ahead of the 2014 NFL Draft. Gruden, in an email to Allen, said the NFL shouldn’t have pressured him into drafting “q—rs.”
Fisher responded to that claim Tuesday night, saying he received no such pressure from the league. He also explained why St. Louis took Sam with its second-to-last pick of the draft, and reinforced his support of the 2014 seventh-round selection:
Sam, the co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, tallied 47 total tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, two passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown that season. It was a year in which his Missouri Tigers went 12-2 and made the SEC championship game. He played on the practice squads of St. Louis and Dallas in 2014 before spending some time in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes in 2015.
“As a head coach for over 20 years, we drafted or didn’t draft, players based on a variety of qualities,” Fisher wrote of his drafting practices. “Their sexual orientation would never — and should never — play a part in the decision-making process.”
Sam was not the only target of Gruden’s hateful language. The former Buccaneers and Raiders coach — who sent those emails while a color analyst for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” — also used a racist trope to describe former NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith, mocked Caitlyn Jenner following her transition and used several homophobic slurs to describe Goodell, league owners and reporters who cover the league.
Gruden announced his resignation as the Raiders’ coach on Monday following The New York Times’ report of said emails, which had been uncovered by the NFL as part of a workplace misconduct investigation into Allen.
Others who have denounced Gruden following the email leaks are his former team, the Buccaneers, and former wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. The NFL and Raiders also denounced the first email that came to light 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. That includes a five-year stint with the Rams, both in St. Louis and in Los Angeles. He went 173-165-1 as a head coach, including 31-45 with the Rams. He last coached in the NFL in 2016.