LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Jon Gruden’s lawyers allege the NFL pressured the Las Vegas Raiders to fire the former head coach last year following the release of racist and homophobic emails, which destroyed his reputation, new documents the 8 News Now Investigators reviewed Thursday said.
Gruden’s lawyers made the claim in response to the NFL’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Nevada. Lawyers for the NFL have said the league could suffer if Gruden’s lawsuit against it continues amid its appeal.
Last month, District Court Judge Nancy Allf denied a motion from the NFL to pause discovery in Gruden’s case amid the appeal to the high court. Allf’s ruling issued Oct. 20 denies the NFL’s request for arbitration in Gruden’s lawsuit against the league.
Lawyers for the NFL are pushing to settle Gruden’s lawsuit through arbitration — and not the public process of discovery. That process would likely reveal how and who leaked Gruden’s emails and other business-related information.
Gruden resigned from the Raiders on Oct. 11, 2021, after emails surfaced showing he used racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments. A New York Times investigation revealed Gruden had not only used racist comments in an email in 2011, but had regularly used derogatory language in emails during his employment with ESPN.
The source of those emails has not been made public.
“The district court did not just deny the NFL parties’ motion to compel arbitration, it comprehensively deconstructed and rejected each and every basis on which the NFL parties tried to avoid litigation,” Gruden’s lawyers wrote in their response filed Wednesday night.
Gruden’s lawyers said the NFL has “failed to demonstrate the existence of a valid, written agreement to arbitrate” the case. Lawyers for the NFL have argued the NFL Constitution and Gruden’s contract contain arbitration provisions, meaning issues would be resolved in private on the league’s terms.
“Any promise by Gruden, which was made only to the Raiders via the employment agreement, to abide by the NFL Constitution was similarly extinguished when the employment agreement was terminated,” Gruden’s lawyers wrote Wednesday.
The NFL lawyers have denied Gruden’s “unsupported speculation” that the NFL and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell were the sources of the leak.
Gruden signed a $100 million contract with the then-Oakland Raiders in 2018. According to the lawsuit, he is not being paid the remaining balance on the contract, which runs through 2027. His lawyers also write Gruden is losing out on endorsement deals, including one with footwear company Skechers.
Gruden received $60 million of his $100 million “record-setting” contract with the Raiders at the time of his resignation, lawyers for the NFL said. The NFL also said Gruden settled with the Raiders “for an additional undisclosed sum.”
Gruden’s lawyers have argued he is no longer under the NFL’s preview and that Commissioner Roger Goodell himself would be the arbitrator.
It was unclear when the high court could rule on the appeal.