Jon Gruden has his first defender in former NFL receiver Andre Rison, who says there’s no way that Gruden is a racist.
Rison told TMZ Sports that despite the number of Gruden’s emails that showed he used racist, homophobic and misogynistic language, he is confident in sticking up for his former head coach. Rison played under Gruden for the Raiders in 2000, his last season in the NFL.
“We all say some things behind closed doors that we regret or we wouldn’t say in public,” Rison said. “We’ve all made mistakes. I believe who he said and what he said and who he intended it for, it was intended for that person and nobody else.”
Rison’s words of support are the first to come from any former player or colleague of Gruden since the second batch of emails was released on Monday.
Keyshawn Johnson, who played under Gruden in Tampa Bay from 2002-2003 and had issues with him, said earlier in the week on ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill & Max that he was far from surprised to hear the language that Gruden used in the emails.
“He’s just always been a fraud to me. … From day one, he’s always been a used car salesman,” Johnson said.
The 58-year-old former Super Bowl champion is unlikely to find himself on a sideline again, nor will he likely be on any airwaves in the near future. Rison’s aware of this but said that Gruden should still be fulfilled for everything he gave to the league.
“You’ve already given this game some of the best tutelage and best leadership that you could possibly give,” Rison said. “So if you don’t ever touch the game again, don’t feel any type of way. Go on with your life and enjoy it with the rest of the Gruden family.”