Ex-Raiders coach Jon Gruden loses bid to keep NFL lawsuit in courts (2024)

Former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden lost his bid to keep his lawsuit against the NFL in the courts and out of an arbitration process that may overseen by commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which Gruden filed in 2021 following his resignation with the Raiders. At the time, Gruden was facing pressure to quit over emails he wrote years earlier, containing racial, hom*ophobic, and sexist terminology.

Attorneys for Gruden, the league and an NFL spokesman didn't respond to messages after notice was posted Monday on a court website. It wasn't immediately clear whether Gruden can seek another hearing before all seven state Supreme Court justices.


Gruden's lawyers sought the rehearing after a three-justice panel split in a May 14 decision that said the league can force the civil case out of state court and into arbitration that might be overseen by Goodell.

Gruden's lawsuit, filed in November 2021, alleges the league forced him to resign from the Raiders by leaking racist, sexist and hom*ophobic emails that he sent many years earlier when he was at ESPN.

Following his resignation, Gruden sued the NFL claiming they ruined his reputation

Two justices said Gruden understood the NFL constitution allowed for arbitration to resolve disputes, and said it wasn't clear whether Goodell or a designated third-party arbitrator would hear Gruden's case.

One justice wrote that allowing Goodell to arbitrate a dispute in which he is a named party would be 'outrageous.'

Gruden was the Raiders' head coach when the team moved in 2020 to Las Vegas from Oakland, California. He left the team in November 2021 with more than six seasons remaining on his record 10-year, $100 million contract.

The league appealed to the state high court after a judge in Las Vegas decided in May 2022 that Gruden's claim that the league intentionally leaked only his documents could show evidence of 'specific intent' or an act designed to cause a particular result.

Gruden was with ESPN when the emails were sent from 2011 to 2018 to former Washington Commanders executive Bruce Allen. They were found amid some 650,000 emails the league obtained during a workplace culture investigation of the Washington team.

Four unnamed team owners told ESPN in 2023 they think Goodell was involved with the leak, while Snyder is accused of sharing the emails with the New York Times and Wall Street Journal

Gruden is seeking monetary damages, alleging that selective disclosure of the emails and their publication by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times destroyed his career and scuttled endorsem*nt contracts.

Four unnamed team owners told ESPN a year ago that they think Goodell was personally involved with the leak. Another ownership source said it was league executives who approved the leaked emails.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy has repeatedly denied that the league had any involvement in the leak.

The messages were sent from 2011 to 2018 by Gruden to several people, including former Washington Redskins executive Bruce Allen, while Gruden was an announcer at ESPN. Gruden previously coached in the NFL from 1990 to 2008, including stints with the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was rehired by the Raiders in 2018 - two years before the team's move to Las Vegas.

In one email, Gruden said Smith had 'lips the size of Michelin tires' and later referred to him as 'Dumboriss Smith.' Additionally, Gruden also used a hom*ophobic term, 'f*****,' to describe Goodell in another message.

Raiders owner Mark Davis felt the leaks were a 'setup,' but decided to poll current and former team players to gauge whether or not he should fire Gruden, a source told ESPN.

Davis was leaning towards keeping Goodell until, sources say, he was pressured by Goodell to 'do something' - a directive the Raiders owner saw as the Commissioner's effort to protect now-former Commanders owner Dan Snyder, who was facing sexual harassment allegations at the time.

After all, it was the NFL's investigation into those harassment claims against Snyder and the Commanders that uncovered Gruden's emails to Allen in the first place.

The league's sexual harassment investigation resulted in a $10 million fine, but specific allegations against Snyder and the team were never revealed by Goodell, who cited privacy concerns for the controversial decision. A subsequent Congressional probe uncovered further allegations against the team and Snyder, who has since sold the team.

Sexual harassment allegations against team employees ranged from inappropriate comments to the creation of a lewd behind-the-scenes video from a cheerleader calendar shoot in 2008, according to the 2020 Washington Post report that first uncovered the claims. Snyder was also accused of telling one cheerleader to visit a hotel room with his friend so they 'could get to know each other better,' and inappropriately touching a female employee at a team dinner - both of which, he has denied.

Gruden called the NFLPA chief 'Dumboriss Smith,' saying he had 'lips the size of Michelin tires'

Roc Nation exec Desiree Perez is pictured alongside the entertainment agency founder, Jay-Z

Read More NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and outgoing Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder are accused of leaking Jon Gruden's racist and hom*ophobic emails that led Raiders to fire the long-time head coach in 2021

But to Davis, the 2021 email leaks appeared to be the NFL's effort to insulate Snyder from the sexual harassment allegations, and Gruden was simply collateral damage, according to ESPN.

'F*** the NFL,' Davis allegedly told Gruden. 'And f*** Dan Snyder.'

According to ESPN interviews with executives, lawyers, agents, as well as league and team officials, Snyder enlisted the help his law firm, Reed Smith, and Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez to insulate himself from the sexual harassment claims. (Roc Nation, the entertainment agency founded by Jay-Z in 2008, has a $25 million contract to aid the NFL on social justice issues)

Sources told ESPN that Snyder was hoping to deflect blame over sexual harassment allegations against himself and the team onto Allen by leaking the emails. Furthermore, ESPN reports, Snyder was hoping to gain favor with Goodell by giving him ammunition against Gruden, one of his long-time critics.

Allen did not respond to 2023 phone messages from DailyMail.com, and the Commanders declined to comment when contacted by ESPN last year. (The brother of ex-Virginia governor, George Allen, Bruce was fired by Washington after the team went 3-13 in 2019 and later found himself in his own legal battle with Snyder over the remainder of his contract)

Interestingly, Gruden's brother, Jay, worked for Snyder and Allen as the Redskins head coach from 2014 until 2019, although he has not been implicated in the matter.

Ex-Raiders coach Jon Gruden loses bid to keep NFL lawsuit in courts (2024)
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