Former Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder may have leaked the private emails of Jon Gruden. ESPN recently published an article about how it went down, even detailing the “why” of it all. While Gruden may no longer coach (or run, depending on who you ask) the Las Vegas Raiders, it’s a “case” worth revisiting.
Don’t get it twisted: Jon Gruden is still guilty
First, no matter what type of malice or reasoning the emails were disseminated under, Gruden said what he said. It’s not the 80’s, 90’s, or the old days anymore. Raider Nation has held a long-standing belief, stemming from founding father Al Davis, that there are 31 teams — and then there’s the Raiders. The league has had it out for the franchise ever since Mr. Davis took them to court and won.
What Gruden said was a racial trope and he apologized for it. Whether you believe him or not is up to you. In said emails, Gruden presented himself as the type of racist who lays it out right in front of you. A bona fide verbal poop chucker, if you will. On many occasions, we heard his foul mouth broadcasted in the direction of referees, coaches, opposing players, and even his own players. He targets everyone equally.
Where the line must be drawn is that his firing was set up by Snyder. The long-time owner precipitated Gruden’s departure by leaking emails in a bid to win favor with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. The de facto boss of the Raiders was the patsy in a bid for Snyder to get an early release from his suspension.
Some shady stuff
No matter how much Goodell dislikes Gruden — and vice versa — this is straight bull. Here’s where the league hit us with the old Kansas City Shuffle (everyone’s focused on what is happening on one hand, and no one focuses on the other).
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, was in danger of losing his position at the time. Players voiced their displeasure toward results of the last two collective bargaining agreements. Both of which massively favored the NFL and its owners. After the emails leaked, Smith managed to garner enough support to earn a final year at the helm.
When investigating a crime or complaint, it’s paramount to see who profited from the outcome. Snyder succeeded in running Gruden out of the NFL but it didn’t bring an end to his suspension. While blackmailing other league owners allowed him to sell the Commanders for record profit, Snyder was still shown the door. Goodell — despite temporarily “winning” a personal vendetta — finds himself in a lawsuit the NFL will not win. Additionally, discovery in Gruden’s case is going to blow the lid off Pandora’s box.
Arbitration is another point of contention in the collective bargaining agreement. As you might guess, it also heavily favors the NFL and its commissioner. A major benefit to arbitration is the NFL’s ability to control complaints (and protect itself) to the detriment of its employees.
How the Gruden and Snyder issues all tie together
It seems as though Snyder and Goodell have been working in tandem to squash the Beth Wilkinson report. Former Washington team president, Bruce Allen, and the NFL’s general counsel, Jeff Pash, are buddy-buddy. This conflict of interest leads many to believe the friends have been working together to bury this scandal.
The league found an absurd 650,000 emails during its investigation into workplace violations within the Commanders’ organization. Out of all those emails, only a few leaked, ousting Gruden and screwing over Mark Davis and the Raiders in the process. The NFL has fought tooth and nail to keep the Wilkinson investigation report under wraps, so foul play is certainly possible. Meanwhile, there has been no mention about the other emails.
Whatever is in those emails is bad enough that the NFL doesn’t want it to see the light of day. The former Raiders coach filed a lawsuit against the league and its commissioner, waging a burn-it-all-down campaign. He’s also managed to escape the league’s sphere of control and the NFL knows it. As of now, all the legal motions filed in an attempt to silence the disgraced coach have failed. Should his case proceed — as it appears to be — the league is in trouble.
Where there’s smoke…
The league’s image has taken a beating for a while. The most damning instance is the league blackballing Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during the pledge of allegiance. “Kap” and the NFL settled the issue outside of court. Another example is Jim Trotter. He was terminated only weeks after attempting to hold Goodell accountable. Trotter cited a lack of diversity, equality, and inclusion in the newsroom as his reason.
Teams are reporting workplace and ownership scandals more and more. First, it was Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson with the sexual harassment allegations — now it’s Snyder. The NFL has always operated as the “good ol’ boys” league. Moreover, they have been able to avoid true accountability. It appears they may not be so lucky going forward, as Jon Gruden might get the last laugh.
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images