Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden continues to mull his legal options with several lawyers advising those close to him that they would be willing to take on a lawsuit against commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL over the handling of emails that resulted in Gruden resigning a few weeks ago.
Raiders owner Mark Davis revealed to the media at last week’s owners meetings that he had reached a settlement with Gruden; sources said the former Super Bowl winning coach is out roughly $50 million in future salary. Gruden has kept a low profile since emails including racist and homophobic language he sent over the course of several years while an ESPN employee came to light as part of the NFL’s inquiry into the toxic work climate at the Washington Football Team. Gruden was corresponding with WFT executive Bruce Allen; Allen was also engaged in several legal disputes with WFT owner Dan Snyder, with emails obtained as part of the discovery in that process.
The NFL has maintained that it did not leak any emails to the media, but Davis has raised several issues about the handling of the matter to associates, and he called for a written report of the WFT investigation to be produced last week as well. The timing of when the emails were revealed — in-season rather than at any point in the long NFL offseason — and the nature of what has been released thus far (only Gruden has faced job ramifications as part of the league’s inquiry into WFT thus far) has raised significant issues for those close to the coach.
“This is anything but over,” as one league source put it.
Some lawyers have asserted that Gruden could have a tortious interference case, claiming the NFL influenced his ouster for private emails that were sent while he was not a league employee that were revealed at a time to inflict maximum damage to Gruden’s career. The lack of transparency in the WFT investigation — no written report, no revelation of evidence — has also led to questions about the nature of what other types of potentially offensive language was being used by others in NFL circles. The NFL has said there was no other incidents of such language being used in the 650,000 emails it perused.
While Gruden’s days coaching in the NFL certainly seem to be over from this scandal, sources in the college football ranks said some schools have had internal discussions about Gruden as a possible candidate there. There are already several high-profile college jobs open. Some close to Gruden do not believe he would consider any college openings, but it would not be shocking if overtures were made.