Former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden has sued Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL, alleging that a “malicious and orchestrated campaign” was used to destroy Gruden’s career by leaking old offensive emails he had sent.

On Thursday, the suit was filed at Clark County District Court, Nevada. This lawsuit came exactly one month after Gruden quit as Raiders coach due to the Wall Street Journal’s publication of his emails.

The emails sent to former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen from 2011 to 2018 during Gruden’s time as an announcer at ESPN included racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments. They were drawn from a collection of 650,000 email that was obtained by the league during a June investigation into Washington Football Team’s workplace culture.

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.”

“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.”

Brian McCarthy, NFL spokesperson, refuted the allegations.

“The allegations are entirely meritless and the NFL will vigorously defend against these claims,” McCarthy said.

The Wall Street Journal published an Oct. 8 report that Gruden had used a racist term in order to refer to DeMaurice Smith, the chief of the NFL union.

The suit says that 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 was coached by Gruden two days later, and on October 11, the New York Times published additional offensive emails. Gruden quit the Raiders after Gruden completed the fourth season of his $10 million-a-year contract.

Mark Davis, Raiders owner, stated last month that they had reached a deal with Gruden for the remaining six-plus year of Gruden’s contract. Davis declined to disclose the details.

Gruden was accused of losing a Skechers sponsorship agreement and being prevented from appearing in Madden NFL 2022. Future employment and endorsement opportunities were also damaged.

Gruden is seeking unspecified damages on seven claims, as well as punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.


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