The NFL’s Big Transparency Problem Part I

NFL news: What does a DEA raid, a vote for the head of the players’ union and Jon Gruden’s emails from 10 years ago have in common?

NFL news: What a tangled web…

The DEA performed a raid on the Washington Football Team’s head trainer, at both his residence and his office at team headquarters last week. However, 650,000 emails had been tucked away for nearly four months prior. Regardless, the first domino to fall was a coach from a different franchise.

DeMaurice Smith is the head of the NFL players union and never before has he faced more opposition retaining his position than now. Smith was in danger of not having enough votes to reach the threshold of 22 votes to secure his next term. Many players felt he caved in to ownership during the collective bargaining negotiations. Calls for new leadership were getting louder than ever before. That was until Friday morning, prior to the vote, once the news broke Smith ended the day with exactly what he needed to be reelected. I’m in no way insinuating he had any involvement in it, but the timing sure was strangely beneficial to him.

The Wall Street Journal broke the initial news detailing Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden’s transgressions and that started the clock on the final days of the Gruden era. Initially there was only a derogatory statement with racial undertones. What followed was an ugliness all too common in American society. The racist, homophobic and misogynistic Gruden emails leaked by the New York Times were the final nail in his coffin.

Plunging Raiders owner Mark Davis and the entire organization into their own personal hell. Davis and the Raiders have appeared tone deaf at best with racial awareness issues, dating back to being one of the last teams to publicly back ‘Black Lives Matter.’ The fiasco with ‘I can breathe.’ Despite George Floyd’s family giving Davis their blessing, it still created a horrible optic.

For an organization who’s pioneering Maverick stood for equality, inclusion and diversity, the nightmare uncovered spit on their core values. ‘Just Win, Baby‘ didn’t include insulting people from different walks of life, nor being regressive in their way of thinking.

Overall it was an irreparably bad situation for everyone in the locker room and the organization. There was simply no other option in this case for Gruden. After being exposed, he was going to be terminated if he didn’t resign.

Just getting started…

Out of the headlines and tucked in the shadows is one of the biggest stories set to rock the football landscape in ever. Make no mistake what Gruden said and wrote in his emails was abhorrent, but he’s still being fed to the wolves. Of the 650,000 emails taken only Gruden’s have seen the light of day and the NFL has opted to end it’s transparency at Gruden.

At the time, Gruden wasn’t employed by the NFL, he was at ESPN. There is some question as to whether the email account he was using was a company email or his own personal. In the court of public opinion it has no bearing, in a court of law it may be cause for grievance.

Someone put the hit out on Gruden, that much is obvious. But whom? In targeting Gruden by using emails from an investigation successfully swept under the rug, the target has been shifted from on Gruden’s back to WFT and calls for transparency are more forceful than ever.

Fanning the flames

Bruce Allen, his former associate in Oakland and ex-Team President of WFT, continues to radiate near the epicenter of this scandal and more. Where there is smoke there is fire, right now the WFT is sending smoke signals in Morse code from team headquarters.

What makes it worse, rumor has it a while back Gruden and Allen had a falling out. The two have not been reported to have made amends, it is Allen’s emails sent to Gruden which have rocked Gruden’s world. Allen has effectively destroyed Gruden’s career and taken employment with or in partnership with the NFL away from him.

A betting man would say Gruden probably isn’t the only one involved in Allen’s email archives saying some wild stuff. There are no doubt plenty of teams executives and players who are undoubtedly scrubbing down email accounts and servers. Nobody is safe anymore, especially when Allen has one of the most respected journalists in America as his own media relations.

NFL: Journalism for rookies

Journalistic integrity and ethics simply doesn’t allow for the source of your material to edit and/or have power of approval over the story before being ran. Altering the material to push a narrative by intentional design is providing a disservice to all consumers of your product detracting from overall credibility.

With that being said, these are all pieces to a bigger puzzle. The NFL is trying to keep something quiet, in throwing out a sacrificial lamb, they made the mistake of stoking the fire. The Redskins may have changed their name to appease fans, but meanwhile, they are trying desperately to control potential damage.

The fact of the matter is this, the NFL has a very big problem that is getting more twisted and messier by the minute. We will continue to monitor developments and update accordingly.

*Top Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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