Jon Gruden, former Las Vegas Raiders coach, has sued Commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL, and alleges that a "malicious campaign" was used against Gruden to end his career. He allegedly leaked emails that contained homophobic, misogynistic, and racist comments.
The suit was filed in Clark County District Court, Nevada on Thursday. This occurred exactly one month after Gruden quit as Raiders coach due to the publication of his emails in the Wall Street Journal/New York Times.
Bruce Allen, a former executive of the Washington Football Team, received emails from 2011 to 2018, during Gruden's tenure as an ESPN announcer. They contained homophobic, misogynistic, and racist comments. These emails were taken from 650,000 emails that the league obtained in June as part of an investigation into Washington Football Team's workplace culture.
Adam Hosmer–Henner, Gruden’s attorney, stated in a statement, that the defendants had "selectively leaked Gruden’s private correspondence to Wall Street Journal, New York Times to hurt Gruden’s reputation and force Gruden out of his job."
The lawsuit claims that Gruden's treatment by the defendants was Soviet-style character assassination, contrary to Washington Football Team investigations. "There was no warning or process. The emails were kept by defendants for many months, until they were released to the national media during the Raiders' season to do maximum damage to Gruden.
Brian McCarthy, a spokesperson for the NFL, denied the allegations.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden used a racial term to describe DeMaurice Smith, the chief of the NFL union.
According to the suit, NFL "pressured" the Raiders into firing Gruden following the publication of the email.
Gruden was subsequently hired as a coach two days later, and on October 11, the New York Times published additional offensive emails. Gruden resigned shortly after the fourth year of the Raiders' 10-year, $100M contract.
Mark Davis, Raiders owner, said last month that he reached a settlement over Gruden's final six-plus year contract. Davis didn't reveal the terms.
Gruden was accused of losing a Skechers sponsorship deal and was prevented from appearing in Madden NFL 2022. Future employment and endorsement opportunities were also damaged.
Gruden seeks unspecified damages for seven claims as well as punitive and attorney's fees.