NFL denies leaking Jon Gruden’s offensive emails that led to him stepping down as Raiders head coach

The NFL has denied leaking Jon Gruden’s offensive emails that led to him resigning as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

The 58-year-old quit after emails he sent before being re-hired in 2018 were found to contain racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments.

The emails were discovered in an NFL workplace misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team (WFT), while Gruden was working as a pundit for ESPN. 

According to two sources close to the investigation, cited by AOL, a large number of people could have accessed the materials that were given to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times last week.

Both sources, however, dispelled one notion that has been suggested: That someone at the NFL Player’s Association or executive director DeMaurice Smith had a hand in leaking the emails to reporters.

With the league’s denial, questions have now turned to who was behind the leak, and whether the violation of a confidential investigative process could lead to future legal ramifications for the NFL. 

Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden speaks on his headset during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Las Vegas. He resigned after emails he sent before being re-hired in 2018 were found to contain racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments

The NFL’s player association said on Tuesday that it plans to request that the NFL releases the remainder of the 650,000 emails reviewed in the investigation.

‘We have had communications with the league, and the NFLPA plans to request that the NFL release the rest of the emails,’ Smith told USA Today Sports in a phone interview.

NFLPA spokesperson George Atallah also confirmed to ESPN that the organisation planned to request the emails.

Lawyers representing 40 former employees of the team on Tuesday also urged the NFL to immediately release the full findings of the investigation. 

They called it ‘outrageous’ that only Gruden has been ‘held accountable’ after the 10-month probe. 

However, the NFL responded saying it is not planning to make public any of emails it obtained as part of an investigation of WFT.

‘Based on the material that we have reviewed, we haven’t identified anything that needed to be reported to club or league leadership,’ NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

‘We have released no emails during this process.’

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported that, from 2011-18 while he was an ESPN analyst between coaching jobs, Gruden used racist, misogynistic and homophobic language directed at Smith, Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in around the NFL in written exchanges with former Washington executive Bruce Allen.

The emails were gathered as part of an investigation of the Washington Football Team after former employees made allegations about sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct. 

The club, which is valued in the billions, was fined $10 million by the NFL and owner Dan Snyder stepped away from day-to-day operations for a period of months, but there was no written report of lawyer Beth Wilkinson’s inquiry.

Gruden, who had a 10-year, $100 million contract with the Raiders, stepped down Monday night during the fourth season of a mostly unsuccessful tenure, going 22-31 with no playoff appearances.

The controversy against Raider’s coach Jon Gruden started on Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden wrote in a 2011 email to former Washington executive Bruce Allen that NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith (pictured), who he called ‘Dumboriss Smith,’ had ‘lips the size of Michelin tires’

Gruden stepped down after The New York Times reported that Gruden frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language directed at commissioner Roger Goodell (pictured) and others in the NFL

The fallout continued Tuesday, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team he led to a Super Bowl title nearly two decades ago, removed him from the Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium.

‘The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have advocated for purposeful change in the areas of race relations, gender equality, diversity and inclusion for many years,’ the Bucs said in a one-paragraph statement. ‘While we acknowledge Jon Gruden’s contributions on the field, his actions go against our core values as an organization.’

Others in and around the sport wondered what, if any, other ramifications might be on the horizon.

Mostly, there were questions.

What did Allen write to Gruden? Allen hung up the phone when contacted by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Could other emails involving current or former coaches or front-office types surface? What disciplinary steps, if any, would the NFL take, after standing back while the Gruden episode played out?

And, perhaps most importantly: Just how pervasive and prevalent around the league are the attitudes and opinions expressed by Gruden? 

The Times reported that Gruden used a gay slur to insult Goodell and said he was 'clueless' and 'anti-football.' He also said Goodell shouldn't have pressured Rams coach Jeff Fisher to draft 'queers,' a reference to Michael Sam (pictured), who was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team

Former St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher

The Times reported that Gruden used a gay slur to insult Goodell and said he was ‘clueless’ and ‘anti-football.’ He also said Goodell shouldn’t have pressured Rams coach Jeff Fisher (right) to draft ‘queers,’ a reference to Michael Sam (left), who was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team

The paper also said Gruden criticized Goodell and the NFL league for trying to reduce concussions, and said that Eric Reid, a player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired. In this 2016 photo, Reid (right) is pictured kneeling alongside his then-49ers teammate, Colin Kaepernick (center)

The paper also said Gruden criticized Goodell and the NFL league for trying to reduce concussions, and said that Eric Reid, a player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired. In this 2016 photo, Reid (right) is pictured kneeling alongside his then-49ers teammate, Colin Kaepernick (center)

The head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, a watchdog group that champions diversity in the NFL, said this episode is a reminder the hiring process should lead to people who offer wide representation.

‘There is no place for head coaches who secretly – or brazenly – share Gruden’s small mindedness,’ said Rod Graves, the Alliance’s executive director. ‘We encourage in-depth due diligence and benchmark best practices on all levels when offering positions of leadership. It is imperative that all candidates espouse the values consistent with the responsibilities.’

The Players Coalition declined comment.  

Gruden released a statement Monday night, saying: ‘I have resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. 

‘I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.’

The Times reported that Gruden used a gay slur to insult Goodell and said he was ‘clueless’ and ‘anti-football.’ He also said Goodell shouldn’t have pressured Rams coach Jeff Fisher to draft ‘queers,’ a reference to Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.

Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay in June and is the first openly gay player to appear in an NFL game.

‘I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great,’ Gruden told ESPN when Nassib came out.  

Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay in June and is the first openly gay player to appear in an NFL game. 'I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great,' Gruden told ESPN when Nassib came out

Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay in June and is the first openly gay player to appear in an NFL game. ‘I learned a long time ago what makes a man different is what makes him great,’ Gruden told ESPN when Nassib came out

In a 2017 email, the Times said Gruden responded to a sexist meme of a female official by saying: ‘Nice job roger.’

The paper also said Gruden criticized Goodell and the NFL league for trying to reduce concussions, and said that Eric Reid, a player who had demonstrated during the playing of the national anthem, should be fired.

The newspaper said Gruden also mocked an article in 2017 about players calling on Goodell to support their efforts promoting racial equality and criminal justice reform.

‘He needs to hide in his concussion protocol tent,’ Gruden wrote. 

Gruden also criticized President Barack Obama during his re-election campaign in 2012, and then-vice president Joe Biden.

Smith said earlier Monday that he appreciates that Gruden reached out to him following the initial report, but that the email is evidence that the fight against racism is ongoing.

‘But make no mistake, the news is not about what is said in our private conversation, but what else is said by people who never thought they would be exposed and how they are going to be held to account,’ Smith wrote in a Twitter thread.

Gruden and Allen have a long relationship, having worked together in Oakland and Tampa Bay. Allen is the son of former Redskins head coach George Allen, who was a friend of President Richard Nixon’s. Allen’s brother George was previously a US Senator and Governor of Virginia. 

The emails between the two and other men included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders. The origin of the cheerleader photographs is significant because complaints made by the WFT dancers are at the center of the NFL's investigation into the club's workplace culture

The emails between the two and other men included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders. The origin of the cheerleader photographs is significant because complaints made by the WFT dancers are at the center of the NFL’s investigation into the club’s workplace culture

Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder (left) pictured alongside now-former team president Bruce Allen, who was the recipient of several of Goodell's offending emails. Gruden and Allen have a long relationship, having worked together in Oakland and Tampa Bay. Allen is the son of former Redskins head coach George Allen, who was a friend of President Richard Nixon's. Allen's brother George was previously a US Senator and Governor of Virginia

Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder (left) pictured alongside now-former team president Bruce Allen, who was the recipient of several of Goodell’s offending emails. Gruden and Allen have a long relationship, having worked together in Oakland and Tampa Bay. Allen is the son of former Redskins head coach George Allen, who was a friend of President Richard Nixon’s. Allen’s brother George was previously a US Senator and Governor of Virginia

The emails between the two and other men included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders. 

The origin of the cheerleader photographs is significant because complaints made by the WFT dancers are at the center of the NFL’s investigation into the club’s workplace culture.  

Allegations against team employees ranged from inappropriate comments to the creation of a semi-nude behind-the-scenes video from a cheerleader calendar shoot in 2008, according to a 2020 Washington Post report. 

WFT owner Dan Snyder, himself, was accused of making inappropriate comments to one cheerleader, but has denied the claim. Nearly all of the accused employees have left the team or were dismissed.   

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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