We’ve only just hit the stretch run of the NFL’s 2022 season, but the drama has already begun—off the field at least.
A congressional panel investigating the very messy dealings of what’s been called the NFL’s worst-run franchise, the Washington Commanders, dropped its 79-page report today and among the findings was something that gets right to the heart of a pending lawsuit and the firing of a legendary former NFL head coach over sending racist emails.
That former head coach is Jon Gruden, and he’s been suing the NFL over a “tortious interference” claim since earlier this year. See, Gruden lost a 10-year, $100 million bag after being forced to resign as head coach of the Los Vegas Raiders last year when a trove of emails in which he used racist and homophobic language came to light. But the thing is, Gruden wasn’t emailing himself. Other names were in those leaked emails; names of folks that the public doesn’t know but who were definitely important in the NFL pecking order when the emails were sent. Those emails only became public because 1) the NFL itself was investigating the Commanders and team owner Daniel Snyder over allegations of harassment and worse inside the organization and 2) because somebody privy to that investigation leaked the emails to the New York Times.
In short, Gruden caught a $100 million stray from a gun aimed at Snyder, and now, in court, he wants to know whose finger was on that trigger so he can make them pay. Turns out, Congress has some idea who that was.
“The 79-page report on the Democratic-led investigation gave the strongest indication yet that the team or someone working on its behalf leaked the inflammatory emails that prompted Congress to get involved in October 2021. According to the report, former team president Bruce Allen testified to the committee that a top NFL official told him the team’s “side” leaked the emails that led to Jon Gruden’s resignation from his position as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.”
The report doesn’t name names, but if true, who would you lay money on being part of that operation? Remember that Snyder reportedly had hired private eyes to start digging up dirt on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league execs, just so he could have something in his back pocket if the league’s other owners decided to move to force him to sell his team. Since then, he announced that he hired Bank of America to advise him on a potential sale, with Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, plus Jay-Z and Kevin Durant interested in the team as a whole or for just a taste.
In the meantime, you can bet Gruden’s legal team is reading all the fine print in those 79 pages.