LAS VEGAS — Raiders coach Jon Gruden apologized Sunday for a 2011 email, uncovered by the Wall Street Journal, in which he used a racist trope to describe NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith’s lips.
“I’m not a racist,” Gruden said in a brief news conference after losing 20-9 to the Bears. “I can’t tell you how sick I am. I apologize again to De Smith. … I had no racial intention with those remarks at all. I’m not like that at all. I apologize. I don’t want to keep addressing it.”
Raiders players said Gruden met with the team before the story was published and told them about the emails, which also included Gruden — who wasn’t coaching then — ripping commissioner Roger Goodell during the lockout.
“I’ve been around this guy for three years now. … He’s never rubbed me a certain way, that type of way,” running back Josh Jacobs said. “I definitely trust him. It was 10 years ago. People grow.”
Quarterback Derek Carr said he and his teammates told Gruden they had his back.
“He told us, ‘Men, learn from my mistake,’ ” Carr said.
The controversy had nothing to do with the Raiders falling flat Sunday, Jacobs said.
“The last couple of weeks we’ve been coming out flat, starting early in the game,” he said.
Starting right tackle Germain Ifedi hurt his knee in the second quarter and didn’t return. He was replaced by Elijah Wilkinson. The Bears like Wilkinson better on the right side than the left, but losing Ifedi would be a blow to a thin unit.
Second-round pick Teven Jenkins is on injured reserve after having back surgery. So is Larry Borom, who hurt his ankle in the opener. He’s eligible to return whenever healthy.
In the fourth quarter, the Bears ruled out outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu with a pectoral injury. Inside linebacker Caleb Johnson hurt his knee on kickoff coverage in the second quarter and didn’t return.
Visiting Las Vegas for the first time to watch the team, Bears fans occupied maybe 40% of Allegiant Stadium.
“I’m not used to playing away games where you have a crowd that can rival the home crowd,” said tight end Jesper Horsted, who caught a second-quarter touchdown. “And especially for this game, they were making so much noise, which really disturbs the opposing offense. And you saw a lot of penalties that are caused solely because of that.”
Coach Matt Nagy talks often about Bears fans who travel en masse.
“But [Sunday] it felt … it was impactful,” he said.
Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith didn’t agree with the flag he received for unnecessary roughness after he hit receiver Willie Snead in the end zone on second-and-goal in the fourth quarter.
“I thought that was BS,” he said. “I was like, ‘Unnecessary?’ ... I’ll have to look back at it, but I don’t think I put my helmet in there. I think I put my shoulder in.’’