January 19, 2022 - 8:34 pm
The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell filed court documents in Nevada on Wednesday asking that a lawsuit filed against them by former Raiders coach Jon Gruden be dismissed.
In the documents, the NFL argued Gruden is deflecting blame from himself to the NFL and Goodell for the ramifications he faced after disparaging emails he wrote were made public.
Gruden resigned in October after the emails, which he sent to then Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen, were revealed by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He ultimately filed a lawsuit against Goodell and the NFL, suggesting the league leaked the emails in an attempt to ruin his career and reputation.
The emails Gruden sent over a span of 2011 to 2018 had homophobic and racist overtones, including a disparaging depiction of Goodell. They were uncovered during an internal investigation into workplace improprieties by the Washington Football Team.
The NFL, though, contends Gruden sent similar emails to at least seven people and that any argument that he was entitled to confidentiality is moot as a result. Nor can Gruden argue that he was was not responsible for the content of the emails.
“Gruden does not, and cannot, dispute that he wrote the published emails,” the NFL argued in court documents. “He does not, and cannot, dispute that he sent those emails to multiple parties. Nor does he claim that they were somehow altered or edited and that the repugnant views espoused in them were not in fact expressed by him.”
In addition, the NFL contends that since Gruden was solely responsible for the content of the emails, he is also responsible for the ramifications of them becoming public.
“To the extent that Jon Gruden suffered any damage, he has no one to blame but himself.” the league’s filing contended.
The NFL reiterated Gruden’s argument for privacy does not apply in the case of the multitude of emails he sent to various recipients.
“Gruden willfully sent numerous profane emails to up to a half dozen individuals at a time, including to multiple corporate email servers subject to third-party monitoring,” the NFL stated in the filing. “Belying any conclusory claim he could make for an expectation of privacy over them.”
Gruden was the coach of the Raiders from 2018 until his resignation in October. Gruden was a television analyst for ESPN at the time he sent the emails, many of which used derogatory language directed at Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith. The content included Gruden saying Smith had lips the size of “michellin (sic) tires,” taking umbrage with the growing role of women in football and disparaging comments about a gay player in the NFL.
Gruden resigned after the emails were made public. The NFL contended it would have fired him had he not stepped down. The league’s power to discipline him, regardless of whether those emails ever became public, renders pointless any motivation that they leaked the emails. The NFL has denied it was responsible for the emails becoming public.
“Despite the fact that the emails precipitated numerous media stories critical of the League, and also negatively impacted the League and the Raiders in the middle of the football season would have and could have permitted the Commissioner himself to sanction and fire Gruden,” the NFL’s filing said. “Indeed, it would be hard to imagine conduct more detrimental to football than the use by a football coach of a racist trope to describe the leader of NFL Players Association.”
The NFL and Goodell also filed a motion Wednesday asking the lawsuit go to arbitration.
Contact Vincent Bonsignore at email@example.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.
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