The NFL possesses a trove of 650,000 emails that previously were entirely hidden. The NFL has peeled off a small handful of those communications, for one or more specific purposes.
As a result, the NFL has opened the door to having all of the emails released.
In July, the NFL managed to announce the outcome of the Washington Football Team investigation without providing any transparency as to its findings. By adroitly tucking the ruling into the afternoon hours of Thursday, July 1 — at a time when most folks were sliding into a four-day July 4 weekend — the stunning failure to disclose details and to even commission a written report from the lawyer who investigated the situation in Washington went barely criticized and hardly noticed.
That has now changed, dramatically.
Whether to help NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith in the vote that determined his future on the job or to end the employment of Jon Gruden, the league selectively culled from the 650,000 emails a tiny subset of messages sent by someone who wasn’t even working for the organization at the time, or any other NFL team for that matter.
Does the league want us to regard Gruden as an outlier? Maybe. Or maybe the truth is that the league simply doesn’t want us to see how deep and dark and dirty the rabbit hole is. Gruden’s penpal, Bruce Allen, exchanged emails with plenty of people. Surely, he and Washington owner Daniel Snyder exchanged emails and text messages. Where are those?
This isn’t some fringe theory. More and more fans (and in turn, more and more media) are asking the questions that should have been asked in July. Why are the specific things that Snyder allegedly said or did being concealed?
As we wrote at the time, the league protected Snyder because that in turn protected other owners from finding themselves in a similar predicament, with scorched-earth reviews of business practices sparked by, potentially, false or embellished allegations (or, perhaps more accurately, credible allegations that they dismissed as false or embellished). No one wants to be audited, even if they haven’t cheated on their taxes. The WFT investigation amounted to an audit of the organization. By hiding the outcome of that audit, other owners could take some solace in the fact that, if they’re ever audited, the results will end up in an underground sarcophagus for a thousand years or longer.
That’s what would have happened, if the NFL hadn’t dipped into the WFT sarcophagus to selectively harvest and leak the Gruden emails. Now that the NFL has opened the door, others are insisting that other emails be released.
The fair and proper thing to do would be to release the full contents of the investigation. At a basic minimum, all of Allen’s emails should be released, including communications with employees of other teams and/or the league office. At a bare minimum, Allen’s email exchanges with Snyder should be disclosed.
Any other outcome is unacceptable. Any other outcome amounts to hypocrisy of the highest degree. Any other outcome makes the league complicit in any misconduct reflected in those emails, because the NFL continues to actively cover it up — the same way the NFL covered up the Gruden emails until the NFL realized that releasing them had one or more strategic benefits.