Former Las Vegas Raiders coach, Jon Gruden, is suing the NFL and its commissioner Roger Goodell, the Associated Press reported.
In his lawsuit filed Thursday in Clark County, Nev., Gruden is alleging that a “malicious and orchestrated campaign” was used to destroy his career by leaking old emails he had sent that included racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments.
The suit was filed one month after Gruden resigned as the Raiders coach following the publication of his emails by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.
The emails were sent to former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen from 2011 to 2018 during Gruden’s time as an announcer at ESPN, according to the AP report. They came from a set of 650,000 emails obtained by the league in June during an investigation into the workplace culture of the Washington Football Team.
Gruden’s attorney, Adam Hosmer-Henner, said in a statement that the defendants "selectively leaked Gruden’s private correspondence to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times in order to harm Gruden’s reputation and force him out of his job," the AP reported.
"In contrast to the formalities of the Washington Football Team investigation, Defendants' treatment of Gruden was a Soviet-style character assassination,” the lawsuit alleges. “There was no warning and no process. Defendants held the emails for months until they were leaked to the national media in the middle of the Raiders’ season in order to cause maximum damage to Gruden."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy denied the charges.
"The allegations are entirely meritless and the NFL will vigorously defend against these claims," McCarthy told the AP.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Oct. 8 that Gruden used a racist term to describe NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith.
The suit says that the NFL pressured the Raiders to fire Gruden after the release of that email and “intimated that further documents would become public if Gruden was not fired.”
Gruden coached two days later, and then on Oct. 11 the New York Times revealed additional offensive emails. Gruden then resigned less than halfway through the fourth year of his 10-year, $100 million contract with the Raiders, according to the AP report.
Raiders owner Mark Davis said last month that he had reached a settlement with Gruden over the final six years of his contract, but didn't reveal the terms.
The lawsuit claims Gruden lost a sponsorship deal with Skechers and was pulled from appearing in the Madden NFL 2022 video game, as well as having future employment and endorsement prospects damaged.
Gruden is seeking punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and unspecified damages on seven claims.
After Gruden's resignation, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers removed Gruden’s name from their Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium.