Jon Gruden is taking action against Roger Goodell and the NFL, filing a lawsuit against the league after a series of emails were released in an investigation into the Washington Football Team uncovered racist, homophobic and sexist emails sent from Gruden.
"Through a malicious and orchestrated campaign, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell sought to destroy the career and reputation of Jon Gruden, the former head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders," filed Thursday in Clark County District Court, per David Ferrera of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "When their initial salvo did not result in Gruden's firing or resignation, Defendants ratcheted up the pressure by intimating that further documents would become public if Gruden was not fired. They followed through with this threat by leaking another batch of documents to the New York Times for an October 11, 2021 article. On October 7, 2021, Jon Gruden was the head coach of the Raiders on a 10-year, $100-million contract. By October 11, 2021, he had been forced to resign."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy called Gruden's allegations "entirely meritless" and said the league "will vigorously defend against these claims."
Gruden was put under investigation by the NFL for an email sent in 2011 in which he used a racial trope to criticize NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. Gruden admitted last month that he also used profane language to describe Goodell, and more emails leaked which he "casually and frequently unleashed misogynistic and homophobic language" during his tenure as a "Monday Night Football" color commentator for ESPN from 2010 to 2018, when he returned to coach the NFL with the Raiders.
In those emails, Gruden denounced female referees and used slurs on Goodell. One email leaked included Gruden saying a former NFL safety, who knelt during the national anthem, should be fired. The emails were sent to then-Washington team president Bruce Allen when Gruden was at ESPN. Allen worked with Gruden when Gruden was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders (first stint) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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The NFL believed nothing stemming from those emails needed to be reported to clubs or league leadership. This went against the NFLPA's request for the league to release the remainder of the 650,000 emails reviewed regarding misconduct with the Washington Football Team. The NFL told USA Today they had no plans to release the emails as a matter of confidentiality. The league also didn't plan to reopen the investigation into the Washington Football Team, per ESPN. Lawyers Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who are representing former employees of Washington, also asked the league to release the emails.
This brings Gruden's lawsuit to light. Per ESPN's Paul Gutierrez, Gruden's attorney Adam Hosmer-Henner stated the defendants "secretly leaked Gruden's private correspondence to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times in order to harm Gruden's reputation and force him out of his job."
"There was no explanation or justification for why Gruden's emails were made public out of the 650,000 emails collected in the NFL's investigation of the Washington Football Team or why the emails were held for months before being released in the middle of the Raiders' season."