Gruden’s lawsuit mistakenly alleges that his firing was intended to distract from WFT investigation

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The 21-page lawsuit filed on Thursday by former Raiders coach Jon Gruden against the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell contains a wide range of allegations regarding the league’s actions and motivations. As to one specific basis for the leak, Gruden’s claims miss the mark.

Three times, at paragraph 44, 50, and 115 of the document, Gruden contends that the league leaked his emails to former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen as a way to turn the page on the criticism of the league regarding its handling of the WFT investigation.

“Defendants attempted to create a distraction from the controversy over their handling of the Washington Football Team investigation by misusing documents from that investigation to publicly sabotage Gruden’s career,” the complaint alleges at paragraph 44. Then, at paragraph 50: “Defendants calculatingly released only a single email that they knew would harm Gruden and would take the focus off the Washington Football Team investigation.” Finally, Gruden alleges at paragraph 115 that the defendants “intentionally singled out Gruden to make him appear as the solitary bad actor at a time when Defendants were facing intense public scrutiny over the mismanagement of the Washington Football Team investigation.”

At the time the leaks of the Gruden emails began, no one was focusing on the WFT investigation. The league had managed to bury the story, announcing the punishment and conducting a media call on the afternoon of Thursday, July 1. Then, after the four-day Fourth of July weekend, everyone had moved on. Through the rest of July, all of August, and the entirety of September, the fact that the league had managed to bury all details regarding the WFT investigation never came up. No one cared. There was, as of early October, no controversy from which to distract.

The truth is that the Gruden emails created the broader problem for the league. The decision to select a sliver of 650,000 documents that took out Gruden caused many to notice, and to pursue, the efforts of the league to hide information that, if disclosed, may have made it untenable for Daniel Snyder to continue as the team’s owner. The Gruden leaks were followed by leaks of emails between Allen and NFL general counsel Jeff Pash. Those leaks eventually fueled questioning of Goodell at a press conference so aggressive that the league rushed a microphone to a reporter who hopefully would change the subject.

The Gruden emails didn’t change the subject. They caused it to emerge. Congress didn’t start paying attention to the situation until the fuse lit by the Gruden leak triggered an explosion of criticism, along with the lingering belief that the league’s stubborn refusal to embrace transparency means that it’s hiding something huge.

It all traces to the Gruden emails. If those emails had never come to light, the WFT investigation never would have become the controversy that it continues to be.

The far better approach, from Gruden’s perspective, would be to argue that Goodell decided to force Gruden out because the emails include specific and profane insults directed at Goodell, and that Goodell specifically chose to delay bringing the matter to a head until the regular season began in order to create maximum harm to Gruden, forcing him to resign while otherwise coaching his team.

Basically, it was a case of revenge served cold that resulted in a red-hot kitchen for the league. But for the alleged effort by Goodell to rid the NFL of Gruden, the league wouldn’t be dealing with relentless public and Congressional pressure to disclose more information about the WFT investigation.

That’s what Gruden should be arguing, because the leaks didn’t put out the fire. They started it.

39 responses to “Gruden’s lawsuit mistakenly alleges that his firing was intended to distract from WFT investigation

  1. Either way the settlement could be bigger than his $100M Raiders contract.

    The NFL does not want a trial where all 650K emails will be on full display and examined.

    Good Luck Coach!

  2. disagree, there is still some focus on WFT and attention into crumbling that regime. Also where this is all very contradicting is: Why does Desean Jackson not have to give up his NFL Career but Gruden made fun of someone and he has to?

  3. Don’t presume Gruden’s end game here is court room victory. You are correct the NFL will look to move it to Federal Court. However, rules of discovery in Federal court are much more time sensitive and rigid. All he has to do is get to the discovery phase – an easy hurdle- and Gruden can (and surely will) demand copies of ALL of the emails the league has as well as ALL info about the investigation of the former Redskins. And all of that will become a matter of public record unless the league gets it sealed, which would only make things look worse. When it dawns on them, NFL owners won’t be too happy with Goodell for settling his own scores and exposing the league.

  4. Yeah but, if the emails didn’t get out, nobody would even know they contained anything about Goodell. So Goodell would release emails that said derogatory things about himself? Well, I didn’t read all 650,000 emails, so maybe there’s more to it.

  5. Hes not wrong. Of the 650000 emails how is it only his were leaked. And they kept leaking emails when he didn’t resign the first time.

  6. I’d love for this whole story to go away, as long as Roger Goodell and Little Danny Snyder went away with it.

  7. Gruden’s lawsuit mistakenly alleges that his firing was intended to distract from WFT investigation, which was intended to distract from the Chandler Jones T Shirt fine, which was intended to distract from Aaron Rogers slap on the wrist fine, which was intended to distract from the killing of a woman and her dog, which was intended to distract from the St. Louis lawsuit, which was intended to distract from the horrid officiating and the game being FIXED, RIGGED.

  8. The NFL will win this case, easily. To claim the firing was to distract is an incredibly lame legal basis.

  9. Gruden is a fraud and his career in football in every way is over. This is his swan song for the spotlight.

  10. Please don’t let this story die! The NFL and WFT deserve consequences, WFT for poor management and toxic culture and the NFL for allowing them to get away with it and actually helping Dan get away with it. I no sympathy for Gruden, but I hope the law suit exposes WFT and the NFL for what they really are.

  11. notwhoyouthinkitis says:
    November 13, 2021 at 8:53 am
    The NFL will win this case, easily. To claim the firing was to distract is an incredibly lame legal basis.
    False. NFL won’t win “easily” There is more here than a “firing” (Which he resigned, not fired). I think this is settled well before it gets into the trial phase. I doubt the NFL wants the rest of those emails made public.

  12. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but since it’s now an issue in the case it’ll be interesting to see what discovery he seems related to the WFT investigation. This might be a good strategy on his part in seeking settlement money.

  13. Make fun of people…. Career over. Take your health in your own hands? People want your career over. Actually commit a real crime? Suspended and continue career.

  14. TOTALLY AGREE. This was revenge by Goodell. And now revenge by Gruden. He now wants to embarrass the NFL, salvage his reputation (good luck) and extract some cash from the league.

  15. Say what you will about Gruden, but this is going to cost the NFL dearly. Wouldn’t be surprised if Goodell goes down as the fall guy.

  16. I am glad Gruden is out as Raiders coach, but he’s going to win this case, or the league is going to pay him a fortune to go away.

  17. So I don’t understand why people think the rest of those emails are going to come out because of this lawsuit. The other emails are not apart of this case. Quite frankly they have nothing to do with it. And I’m not sure why Gruden is bringing this suit, he has no right to privacy when the emails were pulled out of a teams Email server. And he DID say the things the emails say he said.

    This won’t even get through summary. He has nothing to sue for.. he did the things that were said he did. There no slander, he resigned so there is no wrongful termination, and no privacy issues because the emails came from a team account. Gruden has zero standing to bring the case. It will be thrown out on the first motion to dismiss.

    You don’t get to waste the courts time and tax payer dollars for petty revenge. That’s not how the justice system works.

    Personally I think the NFL should outside counsel to investigate how the emails were leaked and who did it. But that’s a whole other deal. I also believe the NFL has a lot answer for as to what happened with Snyder And DC franchise. But none of that has anything to do with Gruden. Gruden is POS who got exposed for being a POS. Period. End of story.

  18. That’s only assuming that it wasn’t about to come out anyway. It’s very possible that the gross misconduct of the NFL in conducting the investigation and Snyder/Allen/Pash was about to be exposed, either by the press or even by Congress. Gruden could be a sacrificial lamb in that case. It makes it look like they won’t tolerate that kind of conduct, when in reality they gave Snyder a slap on the wrist and buried the rest. And we all know it was about much more than a few profane and risqué emails sent between Gruden as a non-NFL employee and Allen. I’ll take Pervasive Culture of Misogyny, Abuse, Sexism and Incompetence for 1000, please.

  19. Right on! I think you nailed it Mike. Gruden may have chosen lawyers with no clue about the dynamics of the NFL. Ironic Jackson now plays for Gruden’s former team after making similar comments about race. He didn’t call out the commisioner though!

  20. For Gruden to win, won’t he have to prove that a) The NFL is the only entity to have access to the emails, and b) That Roger Goodell is the only person who would want to stick it to Gruden?

    I don’t think either of those conditions is true, not by a long shot.

  21. So the WFT investigation did not go away and is still a main topic, at least here locally. The lawsuit against the Indian media company alleging that Dan is a victim of “a corrupt misinformation campaign” along with the legal battle filed in July with MEAWW in New Delhi court have not disappeared at all.

    As a matter of fact I believe it was the July time frame when Snyder filed the motions that connect Bruce Allen to the defamation effort. I believe it was a 17 page discovery and deposition filed in CA.

  22. This is not accurate. The WFT investigation was churning like a ducks legs underwater. The Gruden leak happened to beat the WFT investigation to the punch.

  23. just have every email from every owner and player from the last 10 years made public and lets judge them all equally.
    seems only fair.

  24. Agree this seems to be the biggest reach of all the claims. He would need to prove that nfl was source of the leaks AND their intention. That seems almost impossible without some “smoking gun” type of email from Pash or Goodell.

    I can totally see the negligent supervision and possibly negligent hiring claims, but the other claims r a tough sell without proof imo.

    But is it possible that Gruden intention here is to force all the emails to become public? If so, he only needs enough “proof” to make that happen, not to win outright.

  25. Not buying it. The attention on the WFT emails was steadily ramping up. This absolutely was an attempt at …->SQUIRREL!

  26. There are two reasons why Roger Goodell leaked those emails.

    1) To facilitate the re-election of NFLPA head Demaurice Smith. They prefer to negotiate with him rather than somebody new. 6 hours before the emails leaked, there were stories on this very website predicting, if not guaranteeing, that the players were about to oust Smith. The commissioner wanted Smith across the table from him.

    2) Jon Gruden personally insulted Roger Goodell and those emails – and probably in others. Goodell got his revenge.

    Neither one of those reasons would guarantee the introduction of all 650,000 emails into the discovery process. You don’t get much traction saying I once called my boss a ****** and a *****, he found out about it, and he arranged to put pressure on me so I would quit. That dog won’t hunt.
    You also are not going to find Roger Goodell being stupid enough to have ever put anything in writing about his plans to influence the NFLPA election. Without that smoking gun in any email, there’s going to be no way to get the 650,000 emails introduced.

    The only purpose of this lawsuit is to threaten the NFL with making those emails public if they don’t pony up a check and or a job for Jon Gruden.

    It’s really that simple. But by all means, we should have some sports reporters writing legal briefs for Gruden’s lawsuit. 🤦🏻‍♂️

    Jon Gruden is a bully that has stepped on a lot of toes as he climbed the ladder. He was dumb and arrogant enough to put things in writing that a 12 year old would understand was too great a risk. He may have gotten a raw deal compared to some of the shenanigans the owners get away with, but he got exactly what he deserved. They will pay him to make him go away. But anybody who thinks they’re going to get any fairness or justice from a club of 32 billionaires, needs a reality check. The NFL doesn’t have to do a damn thing it doesn’t want to do. And everyone will still watch every Sunday, Monday and Thursday. If you think 32 billionaires are going to be held accountable for anything in the United States of America in the year 2021, you are out of your freaking mind.

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