The NFL has struggled to navigate multiple scandals.
The league allowed the anti-American anthem protests to drag on for years.
Now the NFL is in full-blown panic mode about one lawsuit.
Former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden lost his job and reputation after what appeared to be a coordinated media hit against him.
Gruden wrote a handful of emails a decade ago when he was out of coaching that were dredged up as part of an investigation into misconduct within the Washington Commanders’ organization.
Out of hundreds of thousands of emails, supposedly the only ones that were untoward belonged to Gruden.
That statistical anomaly spurred Gruden to sue the NFL, and he continues to win in court against the league’s efforts to quash the case.
And supposedly the league has a “growing concern” that Gruden’s lawsuit could get ugly for the league.
From Front Office Sports:
“The lawsuit filed by former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden against the NFL last November has easily survived every legal challenge so far. At Thursday’s hearing in Las Vegas, District Court Judge Nancy Allf even refused to issue a stay in the case ahead of an expected appeal. Sources told Front Office Sports there’s a growing concern around the NFL about the litigation, wherein Gruden alleges Goodell and the league were behind the leaked derogatory emails. The NFL denied it was the source of the emails, which led to Gruden’s resignation…The source of the leaked emails obtained during the course of the first NFL outside investigation into the Commanders has been debated for months. The Commanders and Snyder — who faced five new investigations after the emails were published — have also denied being the source.”
A source told Front Office Sports that “Somebody wanted Gruden out.”
Considering no other problematic emails popped up out of hundreds of thousands, it seems likely that someone was targeting Gruden.
Legendary broadcaster Brent Musburger agrees with that assessment.
He said in a radio interview, “As I told Coach [Gruden], ‘Whoever took you out, Jon, that was a paid assassin.’ 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.”
Among Gruden’s emails were derogatory comments about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
It’s not a stretch to suggest that someone within the league office had an ax to grind with Gruden.
The coach alleges in his lawsuit:
“When their initial salvo did not result in Gruden’s firing or resignation, Defendants ratcheted up the pressure by intimating that further documents would become public if Gruden was not fired. They followed through with this threat by leaking another batch of documents to the New York Times for an October 11, 2021 article. On October 7, 2021, Jon Gruden was the head coach of the Raiders on a 10-year, $100-million contract. By October 11, 2021, he had been forced to resign.”
If someone in the NFL league office decided to kneecap Gruden, it just might have backfired.