Jon Gruden may never coach in the NFL again, but the league hasn’t heard the last of him. The disgraced former Super Bowl-winning coach sued the NFL last week, ESPN reported, and if his allegations make it to open court, it could get messy for the league.
Gruden resigned from coaching the Las Vegas Raiders last month after a trove of racist and homophobic emails he had sent to other NFL execs and to people outside the league were made public. The emails were sent while Gruden was working as a commentator for ESPN, not as an active NFL coach.
The disgraced former coach doesn’t deny he sent the emails (he apologized in announcing his resignation), but his attorney says Gruden was targeted and made a scapegoat by NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell and that Gruden lost a huge bag because of it.
“The complaint alleges that the defendants selectively 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,” Hosmer-Henner said. “There is no explanation or justification for why Gruden’s emails were the only ones made public out of the 650,000 emails collected in the NFL’s investigation of the Washington Football Team or for why the emails were held for months before being released in the middle of the Raiders’ season.”
The lawsuit says the NFL pressured the Raiders to terminate Gruden and “intimated that further documents would become public if Gruden was not fired.” According to the suit, Gruden lost a sponsorship deal with Skechers and was pulled from appearing in the Madden NFL 2022 video game, as well as having future employment and endorsement prospects damaged.
We tend to believe Gruden fumbled his own bag by sending emails referring to the head of the NFL players union, a Black man, by the size of his lips and calling Goodell the f-word (not “fuck” but the homophobic slur), and more. But his lawsuit could challenge the NFL to come clean about some things fans, media and even Congress want to know. Gruden’s emails were while the league investigated a toxic culture at the Washington Football Team that led to a $10 million fine; of 650,000 emails reviewed, who else said what? Why were Gruden’s the only ones that made their way to reporters, and what else has the league learned about racism, sexism and homophobia in its executive suites?
You can read the full lawsuit here.