NFL owners accuse Roger Goodell and Daniel Snyder of leaking Jon Gruden emails

  • Emails from Gruden containing racist and misogynistic language were leaked in 2021
  • ESPN’s investigation revealed five NFL owners believe it was an inside job
  • Gruden had his name removed from the Bucs Ring of Honor amid the scandal
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Baltimore Ravens
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Baltimore Ravens / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

Less than two years ago, the career of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden seemingly came to a sudden end.

Gruden was fired by the Las Vegas Raiders in October 2021 after it was revealed he had send numerous emails over the previous years that contained racist, sexist, anti-gay, and misogynistic language. The emails also revealed that he routinely took shots at his boss, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

All of this led to Gruden’s dismissal, but the story didn’t end there. The former coach filed a lawsuit against the NFL and accused the league of leaking the emails. It seemed a bit far-fetched at the time, even if the emails did end up coming to light because of an investigation into Daniel Snyder and the toxic work enviornment he created in Washington.

It seemed at the time like a desperate measure to save face and pass blame, but it turns out that Gruden might not have been wrong — or at the very least he’s not the only powerful person in football who believe it might have been an inside job.

NFL owners accuse Roger Goodell, Daniel Snyder of leaking Jon Gruden emails

ESPN published a report this week detailing how the email leak actually might have served as the final nail in the coffin of disgraced owner Daniel Snyder’s career in the league. Don Van Natalie Jr., and Seth Wickersham talked with as many as four NFL owners who believe the league — specifically Goodell — had something to do with the leak.

“Sources, including one in ownership, told ESPN that NFL executives approved the release of some emails. Four owners told ESPN they believe Goodell was personally involved,” ESPN reported. “NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith. Smith bragged that he was responsible for leaking the racist email referring to him, an associate with direct knowledge told ESPN.”

To be clear, Gruden is still very much at fault for having sent the emails and used the barbaric language he did in the first place. This is about how those emails were brought to everyone’s attention and the reason why.

It’s one thing if the emails were leaked by a whistleblower, but if high-ranking league officials did so as a smokescreen to protect Daniel Snyder or to strengthen the case to oust him, then the scandal takes on a whole new meaning.

For what it’s worth, the NFL denied the accusations.

"Neither the NFL nor the commissioner leaked Coach Gruden's offensive emails,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement.

It’s unclear what this will mean moving forward, but it certainly seemed like Gruden has a stronger case against the league than we all initially thought.

Gruden has been out of the NFL in an official capacity since the scandal broke and he was fired. He has started resurfacing, though, as briefly joined the New Orleans Saints as an offensive consultant to help Derek Carr this offseason.