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Jon Gruden reportedly weighing lawsuit against NFL, Roger Goodell

Jon Gruden
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

More than two weeks after Jon Gruden resigned as the Las Vegas Raiders head coach, he is reportedly now weighing a lawsuit against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell.

Gruden stepped down as head coach on Oct. 11 shortly after another wave of leaked emails detailed his use of racist, homophobic and sexist language with former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen. The emails, uncovered as part of the investigation into Washington’s toxic team culture, unleashed a domino effect during the Raiders’ season.

The first published email, released days before Las Vegas faced the Chicago Bears, showed Gruden using a racial trope when referring to NFL Players’ Association chief DeMaurice Smith. Gruden apologized but with no plans to resign, the NFL sent more emails containing Gruden’s abhorrent language to the Raiders.

After the Raiders lost to the Bears, Gruden remained head coach. Hours later, the New York Times unveiled more Gruden emails containing racist, sexist and homophobic language. He immediately resigned, with the spotlight then shifting to the complete finding from the WFT investigation and when the NFL learned about Gruden’s language.

Despite overwhelming demand from victims of the WFT’s toxic workplace that resulted in sexual harassment and misconduct, along with calls from the NFLPA and even Mark Davis, the NFL refused to release the full 650,000 emails and the findings from the investigation.

Now, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Gruden is weighing his legal options and receiving advice from lawyers that he could file a lawsuit against Goodell and the NFL.

The 58-year-old, who is unlikely to ever work in football again, already reached a settlement with Las Vegas dealing with the remainder of his contract. But he could now go after the league for the handling of the released emails and the subsequent fallout.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported Oct. 16 that the NFL knew about the Jon Gruden emails no later than June 2021. While the league has also denied providing the documents to reports, a move that would have helped push Gruden out, there could be a case for a suit against the NFL.

Several lawyers have told Gruden, per CBS Sports, that there is a case for tortious interference with claims that the NFL influenced his dismissal through emails sent when he wasn’t an NFL employee. Although the NFL suspended Terrelle Pryor in 2011 for receiving impermissible benefits at Ohio State and the league could argue its broadcast partnership with ESPN when Gruden worked in the Monday Night Football booth, gives them some grounds for the emails being relevant.

But the NFL’s lack of transparency with the WFT investigation findings and its refusal to disclose emails that potentially contain similar language used by other league members could lead to another legal battle. Considering the NFL’s desire for secrecy, choosing settlements over legal battles that could lead to internal records going public, Gruden might get something out of the league.