Jon Gruden emails were part of June court filing by WFT owner Dan Snyder
Several inflammatory emails by Jon Gruden were filed as exhibits in federal court by attorneys for Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder in mid-June, almost four months before they were leaked to two newspapers and led to Gruden’s resignation as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
The heavily redacted emails between Gruden and then-Redskins president Bruce Allen filed in U.S. District Court in Arizona include offensive language, chummy conversations with journalists — including an ESPN journalist referring to Allen as “Mr. Editor” while seeking feedback on an unpublished story he sent to Allen to review — and a barrage of complaints about the state of the NFL.
The emails are identical to some of those reported this week by the New York Times. That story detailed homophobic and misogynistic comments by Gruden in emails with Allen. A day earlier the Wall Street Journal reported Gruden used a racist trope in another email exchange.
Gruden’s name is redacted in most of the emails filed in court, replaced with “ESPN Personality.” He was employed by the network as the “Monday Night Football” analyst before rejoining the Raiders in 2018.
However, Gruden’s name and personal email address aren’t redacted — apparently by mistake — in an exchange with Allen from November 2017 discussing a news story about the NFL potentially keeping teams in their locker rooms during the national anthem because of players kneeling on the field in protest during the song.
The NFL came across Jon Gruden emails that contained racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments. How much more is there? What else will be revealed?
“These guys can’t come up with a good idea if their life depended on it,” Allen wrote.
Gruden sent a one-word response — starting with “p” and ending in “ies” with the three middle letters redacted.
In another email, the “ESPN Personality” wrote Allen in August 2014 and called a “Redacted — Football Person” a “clueless anti football p***y.” The New York Times reported the email referred to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the slur, partially redacted in the email, is “pussy.”
Allen responded: “I think that summarized properly.”
The “ESPN Personality” emailed Allen in June 2015, saying that “[Redacted Football Person] shouldn’t call [Redacted Football Person] and tell him to draft que**s either. That pisses Em off too.” The New York Times reported that Gruden sent the email and the redactions referred to Goodell, former Rams coach Jeff Fisher and “queers” after the Rams selected openly gay linebacker Michael Sam in the NFL draft.
Allen chimed in response: “[Redacted football person] shouldn’t take the call.”
Fisher posted Tuesday on Twitter, “As a head coach for over 20 years, we drafted or didn’t draft, players based on a variety of qualities. Their sexual orientation would never — and should never — play a role in the decision.” Fisher added the NFL never encouraged or discouraged drafting Sam.
A Los Angeles Times source confirmed the contents of emails the New York Times reported not included in the June court filing were accurate.
An attorney for Allen, who worked for Washington from 2009 through 2019, and a team spokesman didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Several emails between Allen and journalists are part of the filing too. In one of them from July 2011, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter sent Allen the draft of an unpublished story that was published later the same day.
“Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked,” Schefter wrote. “Thanks, Mr. Editor, for that and the trust. Plan to file this to espn about 6 am ….”
ESPN released the following statement in response to the correspondence: “Without sharing all the specifics of the reporter’s process for a story from 10 years ago during the NFL lockout, we believe that nothing is more important to Adam and ESPN than providing fans the most accurate, fair and complete story.”
Schefter released a statement Wednesday saying it was rare for him to send a story to a source in advance of publication and he did so because of the “complex nature of collective bargaining talks.” He added, “In no way did I, or would I, cede editorial control or hand over final say about a story to anyone, ever.”
Gruden is the epitome of how the game is played in a multibillion-dollar industry in which the leaders don’t expect anyone to hold them accountable.
The emails were filed as part of an effort by Snyder’s legal team to compel Allen to produce discovery in connection with a defamation lawsuit Snyder is pursuing in India against a media company called MEAWW for stories it published in July 2020.
“Accordingly, Petitioner [Snyder] has a good faith belief that Respondent [Allen] has specific knowledge of the creation and distribution of the MEAWW articles, and thus has information relevant to the Indian Action,” the filing by Snyder’s attorneys in April said.
The correspondence with media, including Gruden, Schefter and others covering the team, refuted Allen’s sworn statement he “maintained a low profile with respect to the media” and “never served as an anonymous source for any news or media reports.”
In a declaration in responding to Snyder’s motion, Allen said he has “had no communications whatsoever with the defendants in the Indian Action, or anyone connected to them, and have no knowledge of the source or sources of the alleged defamation at issue in the Indian Action.”
Allen’s declaration said he won an arbitration proceeding against Snyder for withholding compensation after his ouster from the franchise.
Gruden, in the fourth year of a 10-year, $100-million contract, resigned Monday shortly after the New York Times published its story. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team Gruden led to a Super Bowl title, announced Tuesday they were removing him from their Ring of Honor.
But questions have lingered about how the emails were leaked — and how they intersect with the NFL’s probe into its Washington team.
In early July, the league announced its findings after a yearlong investigation into Washington and a workplace in which sexual harassment and bullying were commonplace. The franchise was fined $10 million, and although Snyder was not suspended, it was agreed upon that his wife, Tanya, would assume responsibilities for all day-to-day team operations and would represent the team at all league meetings for at least several months.
More than 650,000 emails on the team’s server were reviewed as part of the probe. When that was completed, according to a league source not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, the league was informed about the existence of emails that “raised issues beyond the scope of that investigation.”
Last week, senior NFL executives provided a summary to Goodell and informed Raiders executives about the emails pertaining to Gruden.
Lawyers representing more than 40 former Washington employees weren’t pleased with the outcome.
“In response to a yearlong investigation in which more than 100 witnesses were interviewed, and which we believe substantiated our clients’ allegations of pervasive harassment, misogyny and abuse at the Washington Football Team, the NFL has chosen to protect owner Dan Snyder,” attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz said in a statement.
“This is truly outrageous, and is a slap in the face to the hundreds of women and former employees who came forward in good faith and at great personal risk to report a culture of abuse at all levels of the Team, including by Snyder himself.”
On Tuesday, the same attorneys called on the NFL to publicly release all 650,000 emails the NFL reviewed during its investigation.
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