The NFL filed a motion asking a Nevada court to dismiss former Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s lawsuit against the league, saying accusations that the NFL leaked Gruden’s old, offensive emails are “baseless” and “should be dismissed for failure to state a single viable cause of action.”
The league responded Wednesday to the suit Gruden filed in district court in Clark County, Nevada, in November. The NFL filed a motion to dismiss the case and also asked the court to stay that motion until it first rules on whether the case should be moved to arbitration.
Gruden resigned as coach of the Raiders in October with more than six seasons remaining on his 10-year, $100 million contract.
He claimed a “malicious and orchestrated campaign” was used by the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell to destroy his career by leaking the old emails that included racist, misogynistic and anti-gay language.
The emails were sent to former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen and others from 2011 to 2018 during Gruden’s time as the lead analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football. The emails came from a set of 650,000 obtained by the league in June during an investigation into WFT’s workplace culture.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on Oct. 8 that Gruden used a racist trope to describe NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith.
Gruden apologized, and then coached two days later as a listless Raiders team lost at home to the Bears.
Then on Oct. 11, the New York Times revealed Gruden sent additional emails using misogynistic and anti-gay language over a seven-year period. He resigned that evening, apologizing again and saying he never meant to hurt anyone.
“Gruden does not, and cannot, dispute that he wrote the published emails. He does not, and cannot, dispute that he sent those emails to multiple parties,” the league’s filing said. “Nor does he claim that they were somehow altered or edited and that the repugnant views espoused in them were not in fact expressed by him. Instead, Gruden filed the instant complaint against the NFL and the commissioner, painting himself as the victim in a fictional story and seeking money through baseless claims against the NFL.”
Gruden’s lawyer had said “there was no explanation or justification for why Gruden’s emails were the only ones made public out of the 650,000 emails collected in the NFL’s investigation of the Washington Football Team or for why the emails were held for months before being released in the middle of the Raiders’ season.”
The league denied leaking the emails, which had been sent to up to a half-dozen people and added that Gruden had no “expectation of privacy” for the emails.
The filing said even if the league had leaked the emails it still would not constitute “intentional interference with a contract” as claimed by Gruden because the NFL had no obligation to protect the confidentiality of the emails, had the right to disclose truthful information to the media and could have suspended or canceled Gruden’s contract because of the emails.
Raiders owner Mark Davis said in October he had reached a settlement with Gruden over the final six-plus years of his contract. Davis did not reveal the terms of the settlement.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.