NFL

NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith voices concerns about leaked emails

Smith was candid about what he believes to be 'active hostility' towards players.

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NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith voices concerns about leaked emails

In the wake of controversy surrounding John Gruden's and his subsequent resignation the NFLPA director voices his concerns about the leaked emails.

DeMaurice Smith voices his worries

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith explained, that his major concern when requesting that the NFL give public access to emails uncovered in its investigation of the Washington Football Team, was his desire to determine whether race has been a factor in hiring decisions across the league. In addition he wondered if teams have been "actively hostile to players that have chosen to self-identify in various ways."

Smith's remarks come on the back of an NFLPA statement in which it was made clear that the intention was to formally request that the NFL release the remainder of the 650,000 emails gathered by the league during it's investigation of workplace conduct in Washington Football Team. It was indeed a selection of those emails that showcased Gruden's use of racist, misogynistic and anti-gay language. In fact, in one of Gruden's emails he made a racial slur about Smith himself who is of African American decent.

"What I'm interested in - is there correspondence that suggests teams are making decisions about coaches based on the color of their skin?" Smith explained to ESPN. "Are they actively hostile to players that have chosen to self-identify in various ways? Are they denigrating of people based on sexual preference or religious identity?"

John Gruden and Demaurice Smith exchanged messages

Prior to Gruden's resignation on Monday, Smith tweeted about the coach's comments in the emails saying it "confirms that the fight against racism, racist tropes and intolerance is not over. This is not about an email as much as it is about a pervasive belief by some that people who look like me can be treated as less."

Smith also added that Gruden had reached out to him via text message and he in turn had responded in kind. He was hopeful that they could speak in the near future while noting that their correspondence occurred before Gruden's resignation.

Smith hopes for a change in the NFL

speaking on the need for the league and union to work together, Smith felt the time had come to "match our actions to our words." He went on to add, "It would be good for our game and for our business - for both the league and the union - to decide that we are going to turn a corner," Smith stated. "And we've talked about diversity, we've talked about inclusiveness, for years. How do we turn the corner and actually match out actions to our words? And when will we start to hold people accountable for living up to a standard that we believe is the acceptable standard for just human interaction?"