Well, now we know why NFL general counsel Jeff Pash declined a request to be interviewed by PFT.
Former Washington president Bruce Allen’s wide range of contacts included one of the league executives who directly report to Commissioner Roger Goodell. Via the New York Times, Allen regularly exchanged emails with NFL general counsel Jeff Pash.
While the exchange contained none of the sexist, racist, transphobic, and/or homophobic content found in former Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s emails with Allen, the Allen-Pash interactions depict a relationship that a high-level league executive shouldn’t have with an executive of any specific team. For reasons inherently and entirely competitive, the league should (in theory) keep all teams no closer or farther than arm’s length.
“Communication between league office employees and club executives occurs on a daily basis,” NFL Executive V.P. of Communications Jeff Miller told the Times in a statement. “Jeff Pash is a respected and high-character N.F.L. executive. Any effort to portray these emails as inappropriate is either misleading or patently false.”
Rumors of Allen and Pash having an e-penpal relationship had swept through the league in recent days. Its existence possibly explains the league’s decision to bury the evidence of the Washington Football Team investigation, and to persistently refuse to release any of the 650,000 emails collected during the probe.
Other than, you know, the Gruden emails and now the Pash emails.
The issues from the Allen-Pash relationship are more subtle and nuanced than the Gruden flamethrowers. Pash seemed to be helping Allen in ways that a neutral league office arguably shouldn’t, from rescinding fines to downplaying other issues for which other teams (like, say, the Patriots) would have received no extra consideration or deference.
As to players who are looking at the release of these emails and wondering whether and to what extent they expose the true and authentic attitudes held toward them by high-level members of the NFL, look no farther than Pash’s flippant response to an email from Allen in which he said he’s “trying to lower a player’s salary at the moment.”
Said Pash: “The Lord’s work.”
Consider that one for a second. The top lawyer for the NFL believes it’s honorable and just and appropriate for a team to exercise leverage against any given player in order to get him to take less money. While not as gross or blatant as the things Gruden said, some may find Pash’s words to be nearly as troubling.