Rams’ Raheem Morris can’t excuse poor judgment of mentor Jon Gruden

Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris talks with players.
Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris had a good coaching relationship with Jon Gruden.
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

As with Rams coach Sean McVay, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris got his NFL start under Jon Gruden and considers him a mentor.

Morris, as with McVay the day before, said Thursday that he was saddened by the content of emails that led to Gruden’s resignation as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Gruden’s emails to former Washington executive Bruce Allen, which came to light during the NFL’s investigation of the Washington Football Team, contained racial, homophobic and misogynistic comments, according to reports by several newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times.


“The things that were said and the things that were hurtful to people are obviously not acceptable in any setting, let alone the NFL setting or our setting,” Morris said before practice as the Rams continued preparations for a s road game Sunday against the New York Giants.

Morris, 45, coached at Cornell and Hofstra before he joined Gruden’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff in 2002 as a defensive quality control assistant.

Morris left the Buccaneers in 2006 to become defensive coordinator at Kansas State. He returned to the NFL team the following year as a defensive backs coach. When Gruden was fired after the 2008 season, Morris was hired as head coach.

A federal court filing four months ago revealed new e-mail correspondence of former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen that extended beyond Jon Gruden.

Oct. 13, 2021

Morris’s teams compiled a 17-31 record before he was fired after the 2011 season. He coached in Washington and Atlanta before McVay hired him in January to succeed Brandon Staley.

Morris, who is Black, said Gruden gave him opportunity and “a lot of quality information from and quality tools to be successful in this business.” But he said Gruden’s comments about DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Assn., who is Black, were hurtful.

“It doesn’t excuse the behavior, it doesn’t excuse the … poor judgment, however you want to put it,” Morris said. “It does not excuse those things.”


Morris said that, “People are always taken out of context,” but he did not know if that was the case in Gruden’s emails.

“But you do know you can’t say those things, and those things are frowned upon in almost every environment,” Morris said, adding. “You’ve got to find out you’ve got to really dig deep to find out whether you’re sorry that you got caught or you’re sorry that you said those things truly.”

Morris also advocated for Gruden to eventually return to the NFL.

Rams coach Sean McVay, who was given his first NFL job by Jon Gruden, was surprised and saddened by the news that led to the resignation of the Raiders coach.

Oct. 13, 2021

“You know the people that do know him, and the people that know him well … for us it would have to be him searching out some of the help or some of the people that he has to talk to to search for that type of forgiveness,” Morris said.

The NFL has made strides in its promotion of diversity, Morris said, but the Gruden situation, “just let’s you know there’s still so much work to be done in our country, not just NFL football …

“It’s just more of the uncomfortable conversation that people are not comfortable having. ... There’s people that walk in my shoes that are comfortable having it. ... I’m very comfortable having these conversations with just about anybody.”