Steelers’ Mike Tomlin reflects on former mentor Jon Gruden’s email scandal: ‘I’m just saddened by it’

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin looked up to Jon Gruden, who once served as his mentor.

Gruden resigned as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night following an email scandal that was brought to light by The New York Times in a bombshell report.

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Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers on the field before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on Sept. 26, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
(Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Prior to the Steelers’ Week 2 matchup against the Raiders, Tomlin expressed high praise for Gruden, saying that he had “no fear” as a head coach. He also touched on his “can-do approach” and “positive energy.” Tomlin said that he learned all of those traits while working under Gruden in the Buccaneers organization in the early 2000s.

On Tuesday, Tomlin opened up about Gruden’s email scandal that revealed insensitive language, including racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments in email communications from 2010 to 2018.

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Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden late in the game as the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 15 to 10 at Monster Park, San Francisco, California, Oct. 30, 2005.
(Robert B. Stanton/NFLPhotoLibrary)

“I’m just saddened by it,” Tomlin told reporters. “I’m saddened for the Raiders organization, I’m saddened for the people that were offended by it, I’m saddened for Coach Gruden. It’s a sad commentary. And that’s really the only opinion that I care to share at this juncture.”

Tomlin was the defensive backs coach in Tampa Bay under Gruden and even won a Super Bowl in 2002 with the former Raiders head coach. He was also the Vikings defensive coordinator for one year before he took over as the head coach of one of the greatest franchises in the NFL.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden directs the North team at the 2007 Under Armour Senior Bowl in Mobile Jan. 27.
(A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

“He looks at an issue or a problem, and he sees it as an opportunity,” Tomlin said of Gruden back in September, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I worked for him for four years. You can’t fake that. It’s every day from him. I’ve probably always generally had that mentality, but he helped me hone it as a vocation, as a coach. His can-do approach, the positive energy that he consistently brings to whatever challenge that the job presents helped me grow in a big way as a coach when I worked for him as a young guy, for sure.”