THOUSAND OAKS – Sean McVay has known John Gruden for a long time, since before he began his NFL coaching career on Gruden’s staff in Tampa Bay, one of the many professional connections between their families over the decades.
But McVay, who now coaches the Rams, says he had no idea Gruden’s hardcore side was revealed in an email made public over the past week.
“I can only speak to my personal conversations with him,” McVay said on Wednesday. “But I haven’t seen that side of him, and I was surprised by him.”
Gruden resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders Monday night after reports of his use of racist, anti-female and anti-gay language in emails between 2011 and 2017.
Exposed in an NFL investigation into workplace misconduct at the Washington football team organization, the emails included players’ union chief Demoris Smith, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, recruiting female referees and the Rams’ 2014 draft of openly gay defensive end Michael Sam. did.
The emails, written when Gruden was working in coaching jobs and as an analyst for ESPN, were mostly exchanged with then-Washington President Bruce Allen. But some included other allies, including Jim McVay, who ran the Outback Bowl. Jim McVay is Sean McVay’s uncle.
Sean McVay opened his regular pre-practice press conference on Wednesday, describing the situation as “unfortunate” and expressing sympathy to other Raiders employees and families affected by Gruden’s resignation.
Faced with questions, McVay said, “(I’m) just sad about it. It’s a pity. I really want to leave it at that.”
When asked if he was saddened by the contents of the email, or sad for Gruden, McVay said it was “all of the above.”
“I grieve for so many people who have been negatively affected, anyone who was outraged by it,” McVay said. “It’s a sad comment all around, and it’s an unfortunate thing we’re talking about right now.”
McVay refrained from directly condemning or defending Gruden.
Back in 2018, when McVay’s Rams began the season with a 33-13 win over Gruden’s then-Oakland Raiders, their families’ history half-centuries and McVay’s Grudenlike vocal modalities were much talked about.
“Everything I’ve learned about this game is from the advice he provided,” McVay said of ESPN’s Lindsay Thierry in a 2018 story about Gruden.
Gruden talked about going out of his way to hire the then 22-year-old McVay as the Buccaneers’ assistant wide receiver coach in 2008.
The football-ridden families were linked when McVay’s grandfather John coached Dayton and hired Gruden’s father Jim to staff his staff in the 1960s, and continued when McVay’s father Tim took on a defensive role. And Jim Gruden was on staff in Indiana in the ’70s when John McVay was an executive and John Gruden was a green assistant coach with the 49ers in the ’90s.
Following his Tampa Bay stint, McVay was offensive coordinator in Washington from 2014-16 under John’s brother Jay Gruden.
McVay said Wednesday that NFL investigators did not contact him, even though his Washington tenure fell during the Gruden email period. McVay said he had not spoken to Gruden since the controversy began.
“I believe that people are innately good,” McVay said. “I also think there are mistakes that people have made, that I have done. No one is perfect. I think there is something to be said for mercy, for grace, and for forgiveness.”
McVay, who is white, was asked if he believed the casual bigotry evident in Gruden’s email with a Washington executive would not accompany the Rams.
“I was raised to love people, to care about people,” McVay said. “I think one of the great things about this game is that you bring people from different backgrounds together, and I think an understanding is made, then you can see people in their purest form. Let’s see and that’s what you love about being able to do this and the different amount of people I’ve come in contact with.
“I’m really sad about it. I saw my uncle had some of them on chains, but I can’t speak on behalf of some material. Sad is an apt word, and I think there’s an atmosphere and atmosphere here that It’s about helping people reach their highest potential, being empathetic, caring about people, and that’s what I think we’ve demonstrated and I think that’s what people who have been in this building would say, And that’s really important to me.”
The Rams (4-1) are expected to be all set to face the New York Giants (1-4) in New Jersey on Sunday, but defensive tackle Aaron Donald took a knee during last week’s win over the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday. After that missed the practice. , kicker Matt Gay had ankle pain, and Jake Funk was limited by a hamstring injury. … Quarterback Matthew Stafford said the finger he injured in a Seahawks game was “good.” … veteran Saxon Barkley (ankle), quarterback Daniel Jones (concussion) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (knee) missed drills.