The Jon Gruden lawsuit against the league continues to reside in the window between the filing of the complaint and the first move by the NFL in response to it. For now, the void has been filled by Brent Musburger, who handled the radio call of the Raiders’ games.
“As I told Coach, whoever took you out, Jon, that was a paid assassin,” Musburger told J.T. The Brick of the Las Vegas Sports Network. “That was one of the best hit jobs that I’ve ever been around. They didn’t go to their media goombahs. They didn’t leak this to Adam Schefter or one of those guys that breaks stories. They first went to the Wall Street Journal. And when Gruden was still coaching after that, then they dumped the rest of it on the New York Times. That was a professional hit job.”
Musburger opened the door to the possibility that the hit didn’t come from the league office.
“There was a second lawsuit involved, OK?” Musburger said. “Between the owner, [Daniel] Snyder of Washington, and a former General Manager. And that means that a lot of outside people had access to those emails that they were going through. So I think the hardest part for Gruden’s lawyers to prove is that somebody from the National Football League actually leaked that. Because if it is somebody from the NFL, shame on them. Because Mark Davis should have been told in the summer, when he had something to do about it.”
From Gruden’s perspective, it may not matter whether it was the league office or someone from the Washington Football Team. Not many people had access to the emails that were leaked to the media. And even though Gruden won’t be able to compel the publications to out their sources, Gruden will be able through discovery to attempt to reconstruct the electronic trail that led from the NFL and/or the Washington Football Team to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
As previously explained, Gruden may not have to ultimately prove that someone deliberately targeted him. The mere fact that a small subset of the documents that the league professes to so carefully protect made their way to a pair of major publications shows that something happened that should not have happened. And that either someone did it intentionally, or that someone negligently failed to safeguard these sensitive materials.
Finally, remember this. Even though some of the emails were involved in litigation between Snyder and Bruce Allen from months earlier, the leaks happened in the same week that the NFL decided to send a packet of Gruden emails to the Raiders. Common sense points to someone within the small universe of people who were involved in gathering the Gruden emails and deciding how to best handle them. It’s also possible that the leak happened not because someone who had access to the emails went rogue, but because someone ordered a figurative Code Red against Gruden.