JC Tretter takes issue with “conspiracy theory” over Jon Gruden email leak

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Three weeks ago today, the Jon Gruden email scandal emerged out of the clear blue sky in the middle of a quiet Friday afternoon. Given that the target of his racist trope — NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith — faced within hours after the email surfaced a vote on whether his job would be declared open in March, many around the league wondered whether the email was leaked by someone who wanted to help Smith keep his job.

That theory has been mentioned in various settings and contexts since then. On Thursday, NFLPA president JC Tretter addressed the speculation for the first time.

Tretter made his remarks in response to an article by Andrew Brandt that appeared on SI.com. Tretter characterized the notion that someone leaked the email in order to help Smith as a “conspiracy theory about the NFLPA and our player leaders.”

Wrote Brandt of the leak: “Sure, the timing could have been a totally random coincidence and not meant to evoke at least one empathy vote to save Smith’s job. However, knowing the cutthroat nature of NFL business, it would not surprise me if the leaker(s) wanted to ensure that Smith — who has negotiated two decade-long CBAs that have served NFL ownership very well — kept his job. It seems as if whoever leaked these selected emails wanted 1) DeMaurice Smith to keep his job, and/or 2) Jon Gruden to lose his job, and/or 3) coverage diverted from other behavior to Gruden’s behavior.”

In response, Tretter says that the Gruden email about Smith was “never discussed” during the conference call that culminated in Smith getting just enough votes from the NFLPA board of player representatives (22 of them) to get another contract. “For Andrew to imply that our player leadership would cast pity votes in support of De or allow unrelated issues to cloud a critical union issue is insulting and ridiculous,” Tretter writes.

There’s a difference, however, between the motivation of the leaker and the impact of the leak on the intended audience. There’s no way to know whether one of the 22 who voted for Smith was on the fence in the hours preceding the vote, and whether the very stark, offensive example of the treatment Smith has endured on behalf of NFL players helped change that person’s mind. Regardless, it’s hardly a “conspiracy theory” to suggest that someone in a very high position with the NFL or one of its teams saw an opportunity to boost Smith by leaking that email when it was leaked. Frankly, it’s far closer to Occam’s razor.

Brandt isn’t the only one who has said what he said. I’ve said it. Multiple times. However, Brandt has had a not-so-subtle bias against current NFLPA leadership, criticizing both the 2011 CBA and the 2020 version of it from behind what many regard as a not-so-thinly-veiled ambition to join the union as part of the post-Smith regime. Indeed, Brandt adds to his column the self-aggrandizing “disclosure” that he “was approached about” the NFLPA executive director position “a couple of times, though not recently, and decided against it.” We’re not aware of Brandt’s name ever emerging as a potential NFLPA executive director; his name had been mentioned as someone who would potentially be hired by a new executive director, possibly as in-house counsel.

Regardless, there’s a history of animosity between the current NFLPA and Brandt, which makes it not surprising that Tretter specifically targeted Brandt for saying something that plenty of others have said. And even if the leaked email didn’t help Smith win the vote, it’s reasonable to think someone who had access to the Gruden emails concluded that it couldn’t hurt.

7 responses to “JC Tretter takes issue with “conspiracy theory” over Jon Gruden email leak

  1. What are the chances of it being merely a coincidence in terms of timing? How long he is the nfl, raiders organization, owners, and lawyers have the email before it was released, 3 months? And it just happened to be randomly released on exactly that day? I don’t think it was a coincidence.

  2. Smoke and mirrors. Look directly into their eyes and speak but dangle the shiny keys to the side to distract.
    Nuggets were left as a trail to follow, but because it was an ugly path some Take The more scenic route
    And soon forget what the reality of the chase was all about.

  3. Nobody is buying that the Gruden emails were released randomly and it’s not up for debate it did help Smith get reeelected. Someone from the league office did this not the Washington Football Team.

  4. Why is the fact that Gruden is nothing more than a big mouthed , idiotic jerk getting overlooked in all this?

  5. Yep, just a coincidence. Probably saved the owners tens of billions of dollars, but that’s just pure luck. Right? I can’t blame Tretter for trying. It’s an old script he was reading from. What do you expect him to say? The more I think about, it’s kind of embarrassing for me and whoever else Tretter was aiming for. He certainly doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for our intelligence. Lol. Maybe he’s right.

  6. Personally I’m leaning towards this being more of a league issue then an individual per say. I also think it was intended to hurt the raiders more then Gruden personally. To me this all really revolves around the st Louis lawsuit against the NFL, Davis’s testimony in said trial and the means it provided St Louis to perhaps win its lawsuit against the NFL. I think Davis’s testimony was payback for being maneuvered out of LA which his Carson proposal is somehow at the foundation of St Louis case. (He is the only owner to testify) The NFL is who had control of the WFT documentation so the motive would come from that direction. Since the rest of the owners were notified of a possible negative outcome and ransom owner intending to renig on his promise to cover cost for trial and any possible financial outcome stoked a fire that pointed the NFL’S ire in Davis’s direction. Leading a plan to release emails to hurt the franchise which was the only weapon they had in the current arsenal against Davis. (I’d imagine as a side note Gruden’s contract was vilified amongst other owners fearing a reset in the market on coaches) my 2 cents anyway 🤷🏾‍♂️

  7. Goodell is in deep with certain owners! One thing they’ll find out is you will NEVER defeat the Davis family!!

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