The NFL may never fully disclose all of the 650,000 emails generated by the Washington Football Team investigation. (It should.) Other information from those materials nevertheless may come to light.
Some already has come to light, even though it initially went unnoticed.
Via Sam Farmer and Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times, a June court filing in a fight between Washington owner Daniel Snyder and former team president Bruce Allen over whether Snyder would be permitted to secure discovery materials from Allen in the ongoing quest to prove a defamation case filed by Snyder in India over an article falsely linking him to Jeffrey Epstein (that’s quite a precursor) includes some of Allen’s emails.
Most notably, some of the Jon Gruden emails to Allen, the leaking of which caused Gruden to resign as coach of the Raiders, were included in the filing, with some (but not total) redaction of Gruden’s identity.
Another aspect of the emails produced in the Arizona dispute between Snyder and Allen has created a stir. In July 2011, Allen and ESPN’s Adam Schefter corresponded regarding a story related to the efforts to conclude the lockout. Schefter actually sent Allen the full draft of a story that Schefter planned to publish, for Allen’s review and approval.
“Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked,” Schefter wrote. “Thanks, Mr. Editor, for that and the trust. Plan to file this to espn about 6 am. . . .”
Via Farmer and Fenno, ESPN released the following statement in response to that message: “Without sharing all the specifics of the reporter’s process for a story from 10 years ago during the NFL lockout, we believe that nothing is more important to Adam and ESPN than providing fans the most accurate, fair and complete story.”
The email became relevant to the dispute between Allen and Snyder because Allen had insisted in a sworn statement that he “maintained a low profile with respect to the media” and that he “never served as an anonymous source for any news or media reports.”
It’s a fascinating glimpse into the sausage-making process as it relates to NFL news. And it’s definitely not normal for reporters to send entire stories to a source for a review, a fact-check, a proofread, or whatever.
The email also provides a glimpse into how chummy these relationships can be, which is very normal in all forms of media when reporters and sources develop relationships. Frankly, this unexpected sliver of the Allen emails makes it all the more important to have all of the Allen/WFT emails released, so that Gruden’s comments can be fairly and properly compared to comments others made — whether employed by teams or media or whoever.
Only then can a full picture of the broader dynamics be developed.