If there’s any truth to the theory that the initial Jon Gruden email, the one about NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, was leaked by the league to help Smith prevail in a critical vote that secured his future, Smith isn’t behaving like someone who is now beholden to the NFL.
“The revelations in recent days about what Jeff Pash, Bruce Allen and others have said in private are both disrespectful and unacceptable in our sport, business and society and I have relayed my thoughts directly to the Commissioner with respect to this latest email release,” Smith tweeted on Friday night. “Our players have proven repeatedly that they are leaders on issues that matter both to our country and their communities, and for those at the league and club levels to insinuate otherwise is absurd. Our players deserve a full accounting of any other NFL misconduct, which is why we once again call for the league to release all of the emails from the Washington investigation. Any evidence or knowledge that this has been suppressed must be brought to light.”
He’s right. And he needs to keep pressing the league. And many are pressing the league.
Not that pressing the league will matter. Consider the Rams relocation litigation. It took a court order and the threat (and reality) of sanctions to get the NFL to comply with a mandate to release certain financial information regarding a handful of owners. The NFL seems to be determined to release nothing about the Washington Football Team investigation — with the exception of the stuff that someone is leaking.
Smith and others should keep pressing. Because all of the documents need to be released. As mentioned last night, if as the league claims there’s nothing similar to Gruden’s comments that were sent by others, there’s no reason to refuse to release the information.
Of course, that could be a big if. That said, the far bigger if arises from the question of whether the NFL will finally provide true transparency to the one major investigation of the past decade that has had none of it.