The NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell issued their response to the lawsuit filed by Jon Gruden, who resigned as Raiders head coach in October after offensive emails surfaced.
The league issued two motions in a Nevada state court on Wednesday: one to take Gruden’s lawsuit to arbitration and the other to dismiss the lawsuit entirely.
The NFL argues that, under the clear terms of Gruden’s employment contract and the NFL Constitution and bylaws to which Gruden is bound, the issues belong in arbitration.
The disgraced Gruden resigned from his Raiders job in October after The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times published internal email exchanges with former Washington general manager Bruce Allen and others that contained vulgar content.
“Gruden sent a variety of equally abhorrent emails to half a dozen recipients over a seven-year period, denouncing ‘the rise of women as referees’ and frequently using homophobic and sexist slurs to refer to Commissioner Goodell, then Deputy Director. President Joseph Biden, a gay professional football player drafted in 2014, and others,” the NFL wrote in a motion filed Wednesday in Nevada state court.
The former Raiders coach sued the NFL on Nov. 11, arguing the league leaked the emails to get back at him for offensive topics he discussed in trades, including with Commissioner Goodell. Gruden’s attorneys claimed the league’s treatment of the former Raiders coach was “Soviet-style character assassination.”
League attorneys also called Gruden’s lawsuit a “baseless attempt” to blame NFL leaders for the backlash that followed the release of the emails.
“He does not, and cannot, deny that he sent those emails to various parties. Nor does he claim that they were altered or edited in any way and that the repugnant views set forth in them were not expressed by him,” the NFL wrote in the motion. “Instead, Gruden filed the instant lawsuit against the NFL and the commissioner, painting himself as the victim in a fictional story and seeking money through baseless claims against the NFL.”
“To the extent that Jon Gruden suffered any harm, he has no one to blame but himself.”
The league also addressed Gruden’s claims that the NFL “leaked” the email exchanges and explained that Goodell would have had to fire Gruden anyway. Gruden will now have the opportunity to respond to these filed motions and the case will be heard in Nevada state court.
“The crux of Gruden’s complaint is that somehow the NFL or the commissioner ‘leaked’ his non-confidential emails (which were already in the hands of many Gruden recipients and for which Gruden had no plausible expectation). privacy) to, for some unexplained reason, destroy his career and ruin his reputation, even though the emails precipitated numerous media stories critical of the League, and also negatively impacted the League and the Raiders amid football season,” the NFL wrote, and “would have and could have allowed the Commissioner himself to discipline and fire Gruden.”
The saga continues.