The NFL currently finds itself in multiple legal messes. What it says and does in one could become a key factor in another.
As explained by Daniel Wallach of ConductDetrimental.com, an argument already advanced by the league in defending itself against the Jon Gruden lawsuit could undermine one of the defenses the league plans to make in the Brian Flores case.
Specifically, the NFL plans to argue (per Wallach) that the league doesn’t hire coaches, and that only teams do. As Wallach notes, Flores and the other two plaintiffs in the case (Ray Horton and Steve Wilks) most likely will argue that the teams and the league are “joint employers” of head coaches.
Proof in support of that conclusion could come from statements made by the league in the Gruden case. Specifically, the NFL has argued in Gruden’s case that it didn’t need to leak inappropriate emails sent by Gruden to former Washington president Bruce Allen because the league had the power to suspend or fire Gruden under the league’s constitution and bylaws. If, as the argument in the Flores case would go, the NFL has that kind of authority over a head coach, then the NFL is a joint employer of every head coach.
It’s a wrinkle to watch as the Flores case unfolds. And if the NFL takes a position in that case that is inconsistent with one or more of the positions taken in the Gruden case, that would hurt the credibility of the league and its lawyers in the eyes of the judge presiding over the Flores case.