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Jon Gruden Launches Bombshell Lawsuit Against NFL

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

One month after resigning as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden is fighting back against the NFL.

Gruden is suing both the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell in Nevada district court, according to NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero. The introduction of the lawsuit alleges that “through a malicious and orchestrated campaign, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell sought to destroy the career and reputation of Jon Gruden.”

The lawsuit brought forth by Gruden has direct ties to the NFL’s investigation of the Washington Football Team. Gruden’s lawyers are arguing that the NFL and Goodell are punishing Gruden as a distraction from their controversial handling of the WFT investigation.

The discriminatory emails were disclosed as part of the NFL’s investigation on the WFT, a probe that did not directly involve Gruden. The investigation involved over 650,000 emails and at least 150 witness interviews, but the emails have not been released by the NFL to the public.

Through Gruden’s lawsuit, however, there is a chance that the court would order the release of the emails—which members of Congress have pushed for—through discovery.

Specifically, the lawsuit accuses the NFL of leaking discriminatory Gruden emails to major news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

First, the suit alleges that defendant’s leaked a 2011 email to Wall Street Journal, in which Gruden made racially discriminatory remarks about DeMaurice Smith, who was president of the NFL Player’s Association at the time. When this email did not lead to Gruden’s firing or resignation, the defendants “ratcheted up the pressure” by leaking another set of emails, this time to the New York Times.

The second batch of emails included more discriminatory language—including misogynistic, homophobic and racist remarks—and led Gruden to resign that same day.

Gruden sent the emails to former Washington Football Team President Bruce Allen. WFT fired Allen in 2019, and the NFL conducted a yearlong private investigation on the team which resulted in a $10 million fine.

Gruden’s lawyers explicitly compare the NFL’s handling of the WFT investigation to their actions against Gruden. Specifically, “in contrast to the formalities of the Washington Football Team investigation, Defendants’ treatment of Gruden was a Soviet-style character assasination” with “no warning or no process.” Further, the defendant’s held on to the emails for months, and waited to release them in the middle of the NFL season to “cause maximum damage” to Gruden.

In addition to Gruden stepping down as the Raiders’ head coach, the Buccaneers removed Gruden from their Ring of Honor, Gruden lost his endorsement deal with Skechers, and EA Sports removed Gruden from the “Madden NFL 22” video game.

Gruden is seeking massive damages, as he was in his fourth season of a 10-year, $100-million-dollar contract he signed with the Raiders back in 2018.

Brendan Duggan is a 1L at Brooklyn Law School. He is also the founder of Sideline Views, a sports and entertainment multimedia brand. You can follow him at @SidelineDuggs.

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