Jon Gruden is still a mystery to us. The former Raiders coach is now suing Roger Goodell, the NFL, and alleging that the league deliberately leaked his emails to major media outlets in a "malicious, orchestrated campaign" that "destroy[his] career, reputation," and "destroy [his] reputation and career." Gruden's lawyer released a statement asking the question that has been on everyone's mind: Why were Gruden's emails the only ones made public as part of an investigation by the NFL into workplace misconduct within the Washington Football Team
Gruden's emails to ESPN employees contained homophobic, sexist and racist language. But, it would be foolish to think that Gruden was the only one who created such a culture in the NFL. The question of WFT emails being found has been ignored in a month filled with NFL scandals. This was much to the relief and delight of many top-ranking league officials. The lawsuit states that the investigation ended with Commissioner Goodell concluding that the team's workplace was not professional. This led to a fine against them, additional workplace sensitivity training and a decision to keep all investigation material confidential . However, the NFL broke its own precedent and refused to release any documents, even when Congress requested it.
Gruden's email scandal meant that he could no longer be a successful head coach for a major sporting organization. The NFL determined that Gruden's emails were the only emails that could be used to end a career, and that they would not release any other emails. WFT employees had made allegations about indecent behavior and were outraged by the NFL's refusal of to release more emails. The lawsuit alleges that the NFL "calculatedly released only one email they knew would hurt Gruden" and that it would shift the focus from the Washington Football Team investigation to the Wall Street Journal.
There is no evidence that the NFL leaked emails. Their lawyers insist they are not involved in the leak. Mike Florio, in a PFT article, pointed out that the Gruden leak did not take heat off the WFT investigation. This had been successfully pushed to the sidelines.
It reactivated the public's awareness of the investigation and the lack thereof. This prompted more vitriol towards the NFL and even caused Congress to become involved. The NFL leaked the emails and it was a backfire. This seems to be more likely than Goodell's personal revenge. Goodell was involved in several Gruden correspondences. He may have hoped to humiliate Gruden by publishing those emails during the WFT investigation. The suit refers to how the NFL handled the Gruden case in a "Soviet-style character murder."
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Because the NFL has such access to a huge amount of money, they will likely just be able settle this matter with Gruden for whatever fee is he charges. Taking this to court would result in other emails being released from prominent figures and the league having to face a public reckoning. Gruden did a disgraceful job and damaged his career and reputation by using offensive language and slurs on a easily traceable platform. If he and his lawyer can prove that intraleague communications are relevant and go beyond any general liability agreements this lawsuit will be the best option for the rest to come out and at least for Goodell to face the music.