Will Jon Gruden sue the NFL?

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When former Raiders coach Jon Gruden told HBO producer Maggie Burbank that “the truth will come out,” many shrugged and said, “It already has.”

But there are plenty of untold truths unrelated to the emails that Gruden sent to former Washington executive Bruce Allen. If Gruden is so inclined, he could pursue those truths by paying the ultimate homage to the late Al Davis.

Gruden could sue the NFL.

The basic theory, if pursued in Nevada, would be “intentional interference with contractual relations.” The argument would be that the NFL put the kibosh on Gruden’s ongoing business interests with the Raiders by weaponizing supposedly secret emails in a way that ended his employment with the team.

Obviously, he wouldn’t be the most sympathetic plaintiff. He wrote the offensive emails that triggered his resignation. But the NFL, after insisting that none of the emails would be made public, harvested some of them with the intention of sending them to the Raiders — even though the emails were sent by Gruden at a time when he didn’t work for the Raiders.

As the argument would go, the NFL necessarily interjected itself into the employment relationship by “tattling” on Gruden over something that happened before he went to work for the team. Perhaps the goal was to prompt the Raiders to explore their own servers for potentially offensive and inappropriate emails sent by Gruden after he returned to the team in early 2018. Perhaps the official goal wasn’t to get the Raiders to get rid of Gruden, but to simply take a closer look at his conduct after becoming an employee of an NFL team again.

Regardless, someone leaked just enough emails to get Gruden out. Not many people had access to those emails. If Gruden sues, maybe the truth as to that wrinkle and many others will indeed come out.

75 responses to “Will Jon Gruden sue the NFL?

  1. It would be interesting if Gruden used this hypothetical lawsuit to force some of the materials the NFL is keeping secret out into the public view via the discovery process.

  2. 100% he will sue. The NFL will settle out of court to get the Non-Disclosure Agreement that will keep the trove of dirty WFT secrets from being dragged out into the light.

    What does he have to lose? Future employment? No team or broadcast partner will touch him the way things stand.

  3. Gruden won’t sue because the NFL has access to the thing he probably loves most in life. Whether it’s coaching (doubtful), team rep, media, etc. He can’t afford to get black listed from the NFL.

  4. Gruden could try because the U.S. uses what’s called “notice pleading” (basically you can sue someone on the back of a napkin and we’ll work out the merits of the case once it’s filed.) However it will fail, and likely be dismissed without trial.

    Tortious interference typically applies to direct, intentional interference (threats, blackmail, property damage, disruption of a necessary service, etc.) Just giving the Raiders information about Gruden’s emails and letting nature take its course isn’t enough; trying to claim that it is will fail on both public policy and First Amendment grounds as well as on the elements of the claim itself.

  5. “I don’t think your clients belong in jail, but I don’t get to make that decision! I represent the government of the United States without passion or prejudice, and my client has a case.”

    -Captain Jack Ross

    “You can’t handle the truth.”

    Colonel Nathan R. Jessup

  6. If he can prove they were behind the leak. If this email was leaked because ongoing litigation outside the league, then I don’t think he has much of a case

  7. twittajohnny says:
    October 22, 2021 at 10:20 am
    Good, what they did to him was horrible.

    No, what Gruden did was horrible. Whoever leaked the emails performed a public service by exposing a vile racist and misogynist.

  8. I hope he does, Goodell was upset by getting called names and got Gruden out. Gruden got what he deserved but I hope the NFL does as well by picking and choosing what to release with shady intentions.

  9. Gruden can sue, but he would have to prove the NFL leaked the emails. I have not seen any evidence it was the NFL. The leak very well could have been Daniel Snyder or someone connected to the legal case between Snyder and Allen.

  10. Absolutely not. This would be like a Made Guy losing his “business” and suing the 5 Families. This ain’t Merrill Lynch or Baer Sterns.

  11. I enjoy reading the legal side of contracts and football, great perspective Florio, keep these articles coming.

    IMHO, this was a hit job by someone who had access to the emails, maybe the league, maybe WFT, maybe Allen but it is total BS that Gruden (as wrong as he was) is paying for the sins of WFT, I guess that’s what a $B+ gets you, until it doesn’t. Makes you wonder who is (and more importantly why) covering for Synder while they let Jerry Richardson burn.

  12. Gruden has no cause for intentional interference with contractual relations or under any other theory. Gruden’s own conduct led to his current situation. No one forced Gruden to publish his discriminatory attitudes, he did that all on his own. Gruden would still have his contract and his job if he wasn’t a bigot.

  13. If I have the story right, they leaked one email and nothing happened, so they leaked another one. One leak is something, but the second leak shows intent. If there was pressure from the league to fire Gruden – which is what we believe happened – this was a concerted effort to break his contract and get him blackballed from the league. He may have a good case, but it could take years and cost him a lot of cash to pursue it. Gruden would need a top law firm to take on the cartel that is the NFL.

  14. Many of the commenters here are not catching the fact that the NFL sent the emails to the Raiders before the second series of leaks. That was the tortious interference.

  15. Raiders President Marc Badain and others resigned just before the season and the grand opening of the allegiant stadium with fans. You knew something was up then as the WFT investigation was ongoing. Seems Owner Mark Davis may have been complicit on the emails and sided with Gruden. Other stories of unpaid tax issues also mounted. I also think the NFLs relationship with the leagues poorest owner has reached new lows. Gruden is owed money from Davis and depending on the amount may determine if he chooses to pursue legal or walk away and start new ventures. Las Vegans knew this team had troubles and Allegiant stadium might as well be a circus tent.

  16. The biggest punishment for Jon Gruden would be to watch his team play significantly better without him. If last week wasn’t a fluke, and the Raiders actually continue improving, then what bigger hit to his ego could there be?

    I don’t think he would happily take any amount of money in exchange for accepting that he was an unsuccessful coach for the last 10 years of coaching.

    For a man like Gruden, is pride is what matters.

  17. “The truth will come out.” Well, the truth is you can’t call the Commissioner a “f—t” and expect no repercussions once it’s discovered.
    Gruden’s employer terminated him. If Gruden “resigned” after talking with Davis, then hell have to sue the owner…and I don’t think he’ll do that. But either way, the NFL has massive problems because of the emails.

  18. All caution to the wind now. I think it’s time to send the shield into utter chaos. Give em everything you have Gruden. I don’t wanna see the NFL somehow worm their way outta this one.

  19. All caution to the wind now. I don’t wanna see the NFL somehow worm their way outta this one.

  20. Brady should sue as well. As should BB.

    Slander is slander. Lying and selling it as a truth should be illegal.

  21. A lot of folks here think that he shouldn’t sue because he will be blackballed. I agree, but I think he’s there already, giving him nothing to lose.

    Can someone who thinks he won’t sue suggest who is going to hire him and in what capacity?

  22. I don’t feel bad for him at all. He himself wrote those things and it wasn’t on a bad hair day but it seems more like over an 8 year period. So what’s the truth that he’s talking about that will come out? That others are involved in that same type of language on other emails? That someone was out to get him? Some defense that is. Doesn’t change what he wrote one iota. He got caught that’s all. It’s right there all written down. His words. His thoughts.

  23. No idea what Gruden will do? What he emailed wasn’t good at all. Make no mistake the NFL offered up Gruden to escape further investigation into the WFT, Snyder and all involved in the debauchery going on in DC. There must be some haymakers to be found.

  24. 100% he will and he will win. The truth will come out it always does. Hopefully, Goodell and Snyder go down with the ship

  25. Gruden broke no laws and nobody was physically hurt and nothing was broken.

    Many others have done much worse and are still there

  26. There are laws in America. If laws are broken that harm an individual, that individual has the right to sue for damages. This should be interesting. Could be expensive, too.

  27. I hope he sues!!! Accountability for all involved! And he deserves to know who snaked him!!

  28. Jon has been blackballed from the NFL so why not ? Free millions if he A)wins or B)settles. I generally don’t like it when people sue ,but in this case he should. Worse case for Jon is he might not even get a chance to coach even at the springtime league level. The GUY LOVES THE GAME.

  29. @ touchback6 maybe but they’ve probably gotten away with a lot of stuff no one knows about yet. They wouldn’t want that coming out. They’ll just leave it alone.

  30. I hope Gruden does sue. The article points out he has a strong case. Like it or not, everyone has the same rights as anyone else–even people who commit horrendous, violent crimes. This looks like someone with some influence was out to get Gruden and to selectively leak certain emails is damning. I hope he forces them to release all the emails. Let’s see how many NFL front office people lose their jobs or get sued. I hate to see Congress get involved but it’s time for the NFL, who always talks about transparency, to show some transparency. This could get interesting.

  31. The Raiders could join the suit too. They lost their head coach because he was constructively terminated by the league.

  32. I find it difficult to believe that out of those thousands of emails that Gruden’s were the only offensive ones. The NFL should have let sleeping dogs lie, because if this goes to court I feel like there are going to be a lot more people being exposed from those thousands of emails who don’t want to be.

  33. touchback6 says:
    October 22, 2021 at 11:06 am
    Brady should sue as well. As should BB.

    Slander is slander. Lying and selling it as a truth should be illegal.

    No one slandered Gruden except for Gruden himself. No one lied about Gruden.

  34. I am certain that players have called their coaches, owners,… worse names & in all likelihood, still do so this very day. Human nature perhaps to complain.
    Unfortunately for Gruden, he committed his words in an email, a private one at that! Whomever “leaked” these emails kenw what they were doing, knew what what would happen to the guy given the current state of social justice world we live in, & committed the anonymous act “in the name of justice” or however they justify it.
    Gruden should sue the NFL.

  35. The only thing we’re going to find out if the emails are released is what we already know. Everyone involved in the NFL flawed, just like the rest of us.

  36. touchback6 says:
    October 22, 2021 at 11:06 am
    Brady should sue as well. As should BB.

    Slander is slander. Lying and selling it as a truth should be illegal.


    The problem is that they would need to show and quantify damages. That’s a tough thing to do when they went in to with the SB after the deflategate fiasco. At a minimum, perhaps they could force the NFL to release the PSI data they collected the following season

  37. Gruden’s only option at this point, if he wants to continue coaching, is college. Rabid fan bases and win-at-all cost administrations will justify any coach, no matter how flawed, as long as the coach doesn’t get them on probation.

  38. He will sue and the NFL will settle because there are probably so many others still in power who don’t want their e-mails on the front page of the NY Times. Still would be nice to know how the NFL got all 650,000 e-mails to begin with.

  39. People clutching their pearls over what Gruden will do next to get a coaching job are overlooking one undeniable fact: He’s not that good of a coach. If you are what your record says you are, he’s perfectly mediocre. And most colleges won’t come within a mile of him.

  40. I am not a Gruden fan and think he is a poor personnel evaluator and a blow hard. That being said if he does sue the NFL it could make for great reading, especially if it get to the discovery phase and everything is seen. Look what it cost the NFL in StL vs NFL discovery. Questions like how the NFL got the e-mails? Al Davis has to be smiling!

  41. Jon Gruden will be fine. He’ll go to work promoting NFL gambling on a Las Vegas Sportsbook.

  42. It is highly likely that those who received Gruden’s emails replied to them, such as Bruce Allen. That would make them equally guilty of transmitting the same evil words.

  43. The guy lives, breathes, eats and sleeps football. He was just forced out of his chosen career, and is now officially toxic to all 32 organizations. Aside from the legal bills, what’s his downside from suing the league to try and regain his former standing?

  44. Replying to: “The truth will come out it always does.”

    No, not really. That would be nice, but messed up stuff gets swept under the rug never to be heard of every day.

  45. Both parties are pretty unlikable in this situation, but I like the chaos so I’m hoping he sues. Always good for a laugh when the NFL loses in court.

  46. It’s going to be a busy off-season for the NFL’s legal team. St Louis is suing Stan Kroenke and the NFL and the NFL is so concerned about a $2Billion Dollar award, that they are dangling an Expansion Franchise to St Louis as a settlement. Then Dea Spanos is suing her brother Dean to sell the Chargers, after accruing another $1 billion in debt in their misguided move to LA. Add a Gruden lawsuit and these lawyers will have quite the payday.

  47. largent80 says:
    October 22, 2021 at 3:32 pm
    The guy lives, breathes, eats and sleeps football. He was just forced out of his chosen career, and is now officially toxic to all 32 organizations. Aside from the legal bills, what’s his downside from suing the league to try and regain his former standing?
    Toothpaste is out of the tube. He showed his true colors and deserved what happened to him. He’ll never coach again thankfully.

  48. If he does sue,he first needs to find out with certainty that the NFL leaked the emails. As of now there is no proof.

  49. Do you think Gruden already signed some kind of settlement and non-disclosure agreement in order to walk off with a big part of what was still owed on his contract? If he did, hopefully that was with the Raiders and he can still sue the NFL office.

  50. This is great news … fleece those owners Jon Gruden. If we ever saw THEIR emails or text messages to each other??? LOL. I hope he gets $100M to keep what he knows to himself!

  51. The guy lives, breathes, eats and sleeps football. He was just forced out of his chosen career, and is now officially toxic to all 32 organizations. Aside from the legal bills, what’s his downside from suing the league to try and regain his former standing?


    Suing the league can only further lower Gruden’s standing. No one in football is going to hire Gruden regardless of the outcome of a lawsuit. The emails are there and he hasnt denied any of it,that toothpaste isnt going back into the tube.

    He’ll be fine though. If he still wants to work about 30% of the population will turn him into a folk hero and he can get a gig delivering his opinions to them.

  52. He’s already screwed by the public perception to get a job with or covering NFL. He should sue, to see other higher ups have hypocritical dirty laundry that needs to be aired, especially as it relates to Kaepernick.

  53. Title: Will Jon Gruden sue the NFL?”
    Answer: ‘Not if he’s smart…”
    Judging from his email comments, “So probably ‘yeah, he’ll sue”

  54. Whatever the result that might come out of a lawsuit between Gruden and the NFL, the one thing for certain is that attorneys will get rich.

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