HENDERSON, Nev. — Former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden is suing the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell in the wake of his private emails being leaked amid an investigation into the Washington Football Team.
Gruden’s attorney, Adam Hosmer-Henner of McDonald Carano, said in a statement that the lawsuit was filed in the Eighth Judicial District Court in Clark County, Nevada.
“The complaint alleges 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,” Hosmer-Henner said. “There is 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 lawsuit says the NFL pressured the Raiders to terminate Gruden and “intimated that further documents would become public if Gruden was not fired.” According to the suit, 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 unspecified damages on seven claims as well as punitive awards and attorneys’ fees.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy called Gruden’s allegations “entirely meritless” and said the league “will vigorously defend against these claims.”
The emails, which contained racist, anti-gay and misogynistic language, spanned a seven-year period starting in 2011 when Gruden worked for ESPN as an analyst on Monday Night Football.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Oct. 8 that Gruden had used a racial trope to describe NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith. Gruden apologized, and two days later a listless Raiders team lost at home to the Chicago Bears.
On Oct. 11, The New York Times reported many more problematic emails sent by Gruden. He resigned that evening, apologizing again and saying he never meant to hurt anyone.
Gruden’s messages were uncovered from a set of 650,000 emails that were part of the NFL’s investigation into claims of workplace misconduct against the Washington Football Team. They were sent by Gruden to then-Washington president Bruce Allen and others.
Gruden has been silent publicly since his resignation as the Raiders have gone 2-1 under interim coach Rich Bisaccia and host the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night.
Gruden, who originally coached the Raiders from 1998 through 2001 before being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — with whom he beat the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII — was with ESPN from 2009 to 2017. He returned to the Raiders in 2018 on a 10-year contract worth a reported $100 million.
Raiders owner Mark Davis said last month that 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.