Will NFL relent in its refusal to release the WFT emails?

NFL: SEP 13 Eagles at Washington Football Team
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The NFL managed in July to bury the entirety of the Washington Football Team investigation, with hardly a question asked about it. Now, with a portion of the documents harvested by the WFT investigation becoming weaponized for the purposes of taking out Raiders coach Jon Gruden, many questions are being asked. And many are calling for more of the documents to be released.

Through it all, the NFL continues to refuse to do so.

But there’s a small crack in the otherwise deadbolted door. In response to the news that the NFL Players Association will petition for all of the 650,000 WFT emails to be released, the league said it has no “current plans” to release the materials. The league separately told the Washington Post that it does not “intend” to release any of the emails or other documents.

Plans can change. Intentions can shift. In the world of P.R. professionals and others who send messages through every word they utter (and those they don’t), it’s not a coincidence or an accident. The words selected by the league in responding to these inquiries mean that it’s possible that something will happen to alter the current position.

So what will it take? Public pressure? Political pressure? Perhaps an ambitious prosecutor will decide to subpoena the entirety of the investigation to explore whether and to what extent crimes were committed, either in the underlying events or the efforts to conceal them.

Regardless, the NFL must release these emails. The truth must be known. Some view Gruden as an outlier. Some think everyone in the NFL acts this way. The truth is likely in the middle, somewhere. The truth, to some extent, is contained in those 650,000 emails.

The Packers, who are publicly owned, must release an annual financial report. This gives us a glimpse of the financial viability of the entire league. Similarly, the results of the WFT investigations, and particularly the emails, would provide a 1/32nd slice of NFL real life.

The other reason for releasing the emails relates to the power that the NFL and/or anyone with access to them currently has over others who may have sent offensive emails. Beyond those who sent emails to Bruce Allen, every employee with a team-issued email account (coaches, assistant, executives, etc.) over the duration of the investigation could be the next one to be targeted for termination or forced resignation.

Whether the league leaked the information to the media or not, the league decided to set this entire process in motion by harvesting a small subset of the 650,000 emails sent by Gruden and forwarding them for the Raiders. If the league did it to Gruden, they can do it to anyone else who is implicated by the emails.

If they are, so be it. They’re responsible for their words; other than when words are exchanged under the umbrella of a privilege, there are no truly private words. But the league shouldn’t have the power to selectively choose which careers will and won’t be destroyed. It all needs to be put out in the open now, if only to remove from the league and/or anyone with access to the 650,000 emails the ability to send emails to someone’s employer, leak them to the media, or — even worse — to quietly approach someone, to privately share their emails with them, and to suggest that they should choose to walk away before any embarrassing emails are released.

43 responses to “Will NFL relent in its refusal to release the WFT emails?

  1. Of course they won’t release anything that will implicate one of their own (the owners). They don’t care about the public’s desire to see the emails or the contents of the investigation. This is all a huge power move by the league to show everyone who really runs the show.

  2. I think if the NFL released all of the emails it might be like opening up Pandora’s Box.

    What if Gruden’s a choir boy compared to the other emails? Surely the NFL wouldn’t want to have to deal with that.

    This has the potential to get extremely ugly, and the NFL knows it.

    It’s too late to put the Genie back in the bottle.

  3. Not defending Gruden at all. Making that very clear. But how did an investigation into the WFT only reveal wrong doings between Gruden and Bruce Allen? Is Was trying to say that all of the bad things that they were accused of was only happening by one former employee and a friend of his?

    Talk about being the ultimate scapegoat.

  4. Not a chance. If we learned one thing from the Washington investigation, its that Politician Goodell will always protect the owners. Always. The buried the investigation. No chance they let out the emails.

  5. It’s a simple question. Do the emails make the league look bad? Yes, they will never see the light of day. No, they will be released.

  6. The emails are concerning an investigation into the Washington Football team yet the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders takes the fall?

  7. I honestly hope this blows up big time in the league’s face. It will teach them not too pull shady crap like that ever again.

  8. Question, and I really don’t know. Can RICO investigations be started? More than 7 people were involved, and the situation with Gruden sure looks like blackmail…a criminal enterprise…and then all of this can be pulled as evidence and made public. If the government cares. Because this is a pretty poor situation that is out there right now. And I put nothing past The Shield in wielding whatever power they can get from 650,000 documents.

  9. Companies should threaten to pull ads from NFL games, Networks should pressure the league to release all emails, fans should inundate league email boxes with demands of transparency. There is too much power the league controls by keeping these emails a secret…unless of course they aren’t a secret in selective situations!

  10. Again, what does the WFT have to do with Gruden and his team? Goodell had his fall guy i guess.

  11. They might release something, but there’s absolutely no need for them to ever release everything. I think more details into what made Washington a hostile workplace environment would be relevant and potentially helpful. A bunch of unrelated e-mails that might make people look bad? Nope.

  12. Many suspect that the NFL/ Bucs paid Gruden a substantial ‘golden parachute’ to prevent him from publicly demanding that ALL 650,000 emails and other documents be released. Gruden was NOT an NFL employee at the time his private emails were written, but that trove of emails contain communications between people who WERE employees/ owners. Without a handsome settlement, Gruden surely would not have resigned and would have sued the Bucs and NFL for wrongful termination if fired. That lawsuit would have demanded all 650,000 emails during discovery – putting the NFL over a barrel.

  13. Not sure Mark Davis agrees that Goodell is protecting the owners considering what they just did to him. Don’t think the Benson’s, Kraft, or Jerry Richardson would feel that way either.

  14. matt14gg says:
    October 13, 2021 at 11:22 am
    Anybody still think Tom Brady was wrong not to turn over his cell phone to the NFL?

    Best line in 3 years of reading this nonsense

  15. Florio you make some valid points for releasing the emails. But do the fans really care what is in those emails? Fans just want to watch the games, bet on the outcomes and leave political correctness to the politicians. The NFL has no reason to release these emails, why self inflict damage? Only political pressure will cause the release of the emails. The NFL is just an example of chariot races for the masses. It distracts us from everyday drudgery.

  16. I don’t see it happening. I can only imagine how much dirt is in those emails relating to a LOT of people currently employed by the league or media partners.

  17. Anything implicating one of their favored owners or executives has already been permanently destroyed anyway there is no verifiable chain of custody to detail exactly what they have or had. They can pretty much make up what they want as far as saying “This is all we have” and unless someone leaks on the leakers there is no way to prove otherwise.

  18. The emails likely contain evidence that could destroy the NFL. We know that many owers are good old boys, so the material in the emails would have people calling to get rid of those owners.

    Goodell works for the owners….period. He will do EVERYTHING in his power to protect them. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that all of the emails had been destroyed.

  19. Normally I’d say its all private emails utilized or held on privately owned servers by a non-public business. However, if that private business is going to selectively release portions of that private info to trash those it sees fit, that privacy privilege argument is long gone.

  20. Joe Rose in Miami said it best, the funny part of this is, after over a year of investigating WFT the only one to go down is someone that was never affiliated with the team

  21. release them all- or we will all know that Gruden? Allen were just scapegoats for the commish, and nfl owners. I am sure when they do- there will be only 525,121 of them thay say nothing. They will not release them all. Pick and choose who they want to burn.

  22. Regardless of who said what in any email, no person/citizen should ever be compelled to self-incriminate. Even if that’s simply in the court of ‘public opinion’, or a criminal court. At the end of the day, the NFL is a private business, it’s owned by an association of owners, and if there’s anything incriminating (or that they believe is incriminating), they are under ZERO obligation to report it. I’m not defending any behavior, these are simply the facts. There really is nothing to see here folks. Don’t get your hopes up. Move along now.

  23. why not release everybodies emails….
    all nfl employees and their agents
    all nflpa employees
    all college players signing up for the draft and their agents
    i mean if you really want to deal with the issues and not just a person or team (giving only the perception of dealing with issues)… this will clean house quickly.

  24. Goodel works for the owners, everything he does is in the interest of the owners only. The owners pay Goodell to protect them, why is it surprising he’s covering up for an owner in this instance? Every owner in this league wants him there to protect them next, Goodell isn’t going anywhere.

  25. It is extremely convenient for WFT and the league that the only two people exposed in this are a former executive who was hated by everyone by the time he was finally canned and somebody who disparaged Goodell but was otherwise totally unconnected to the core of the investigation.

  26. The ironic part of this is, after over a year of investigating WFT the only one to go down is someone that was never affiliated with the team.

  27. This was a hit job in support of De Smith who was engaged in a vote of no confidence regarding his union role. De rolled over for the league and so they went to bat for him. I am shocked that no one has addressed this angle!!!

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