Former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden filed a lawsuit against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday accusing the league and Goodell of trying to destroy his career using a "malicious and orchestrated campaign," according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The lawsuit claims Goodell and the NFL leaked racist and anti-gay emails sent by Gruden in an attempt to "destroy the career and reputation of Jon Gruden." The lawsuit also alleged the NFL leaked additional emails to the New York Times to ensure Gruden would resign or be fired. It claimed Gruden was "forced to resign" following those emails.
Gruden's lawyer, Adam Hosmer-Henner, confirmed the lawsuit to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network. Hosmer-Henner said Gruden would seek damages on seven claims.
Statement below from Jon Gruden’s attorney, Adam Hosmer-Henner, who filed the complaint Thursday in Clark County, Nevada court. Gruden is seeking damages on seven claims, as well as punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. pic.twitter.com/FsRocrutd2
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 12, 2021
Roughly 650,000 emails were reviewed as part of the league's investigation into misconduct by the Washington Football Team. Of those emails, only ones sent by Gruden were leaked.
Those emails revealed Gruden used racist and anti-gay language in messages to former Washington team president Bruce Allen. Gruden reportedly called Goodell a "fa—t" and a "clueless anti football p—y" in those emails. He also commented on then-St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher drafting "queers," a reference to former defensive end Michael Sam. Prior to the 2014 NFL draft, Sam came out as gay. Gruden also used racist language to describe NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith, who is Black.
Hosmer-Henner argued, "There is no explanation or justification" for Gruden being the only person included in the leak. Hosmer-Henner also questioned the timing of the leaks, claiming the emails were held for months and weren't released until the Raiders were playing regular season games.
NFL refuses to release findings from WFT investigation
The NFL fined the Washington Football Team $10 million after reviewing the team's workplace culture. That decision was met with criticism from some entities, including Congress, which requested the NFL turn over documents related to the investigation. Goodell stood by the league's punishment and refused to release those documents.
Congress wasn't alone in pushing Goodell to release the entire report. Raiders owner Mark Davis called for the league to release its findings. Davis also questioned the timing of the email leaks that led to Gruden's resignation.
In the weeks following his resignation, Gruden threatened action against the NFL, saying, "The truth will come out" about the email scandal.
In October, the NFL denied leaking Gruden's emails.