Jay Gruden was never contacted during investigation of Washington’s culture

Jay Gruden never contacted for investigation, responds to Jon's resignation originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Former Washington Football Team head coach Jay Gruden told a D.C. radio station on Tuesday that he was never interviewed during NFL independent investigation into the team’s workplace culture. 

Jay Gruden spent five years as Washington’s head coach, who was fired toward the end of the 2019 season. He told the Team 980 that he was never contacted by any investigator during the 10-month long investigation.

“No, I haven’t been questioned,” Jay Gruden said. “I don’t even know what the heck is really going on. Once I was let go out of there, I was let go and I kind of just backed away.”

The former Washington head coach believes he was not brought into questioning because he was not “privy to a lot of that information” that was going on behind the scenes in Ashburn.

“I don’t know what they’re looking for, to be honest with you. I was just a football coach. I thought our staff worked extremely hard. I thought our players worked extremely hard. We did the best we could to win football games,” Jay Gruden said. 

“What went on, as far as other issues are concerned, I wasn’t privy to a lot of that information,” Jay Gruden continued. “That was between Dan [Snyder] and Bruce [Allen] and whoever else was privy to that. That’s probably why I wasn’t called up or questioned. I had nothing to do with any of that stuff. I was trying to get the players out there to play, get the healthy players out there to play and compete.”

The investigation has come to light by recent reporting from the New York Times claiming that Jay’s brother Jon Gruden, who recently resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, sent a series of racist, sexist and transphobic emails to former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen and others over the past decade. The emails were reported to be a part of the original investigation.

D.C. area lawyer Beth Wilkinson conducted the probe for the NFL. She spent 10 months investigating the toxic workplace culture in Washington following multiple articles from the Washington Post last summer which detailed the experiences of 42 women who were alleged victims of sexual misconduct by high-ranking Washington employees. 

During his five years under Allen in Washington, Gruden said he didn’t have any interactions with his former boss that demonstrated the thoughts and language that was in the emails. Rather, his relationship with Allen was nothing more than about football.

“I try to stay in my lane as far as football coaching is concerned,” Jay said. “I want to stay in my lane as far as football is concerned and try to do the best I can in that regard, try to make the team better. I’d like to think I left the team in a better place than when I got it. That’s the only thing I can feel like I did something good at. But, no. I stayed in my lane and did the best I could.”

Additionally, Jay admitted that he never could have anticipated Washington’s workplace culture influencing his brother’s job with another organization. 

“No, that’s not anything we could ever anticipated happening. Unfortunately, what happened has already happened. Jon’s already apologized. He never meant to hurt anyone, obviously,” Gruden said. “He’s done a lot of great things for the National Football League and ESPN alike. I’d like to let him handle his business. I’m always here for his support like how he’s always there for my support when I’ve needed it at a time of crisis, so to speak. He’ll bounce back in a big way. He always has and always will.”

“He’s had an incredible influence as far as football is concerned,” Jay said. “For this to bring him down, so to speak, is unfortunate. It’s brutal. But from a brother standpoint, he’s been nothing but supportive of me. I wouldn’t have gotten an offensive coordinator job or head [coach] job without his support and tutelage. In this time, we’re going to stay together and get through this.”

As a result of the investigation, Washington was fined $10 million. Dan Snyder named his wife, Tanya, co-CEO while he took a temporary leave of absence. However, Wilkinson delivered solely an oral report of her findings to the NFL; a written report was never published, which led to significant criticism across the league.

On Tuesday, it was reported that the NFLPA has requested for the league to release the remaining emails from the investigation.

While Jay Gruden plans to support his older brother regardless, the former Washington coach said he doesn’t believe the language Jon Gruden used in his emails is commonplace in the NFL.

“I wouldn’t say it’s commonplace. I think people, in their own personal circles, talk their own personal way in front of groups that you think are private,” Jay said. “You may say some stuff to a good buddy of yours you’ve known for a long time that you wouldn’t say to anybody else in the world. … He’s a great person, great human, great football coach. But I wouldn’t say this is commonplace. It happened the way it happened, unfortunately.”

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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