So what happens now?
Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden is forced to resign because of horrific emails between him and former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen full of racist, homophobic, misogynistic and contemptible content … and that’s it? Emails that include topless photos of Washington Football Team cheerleaders?
Reportedly, there were 650,000 emails that were part of the Beth Wilkinson investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment inside the Washington Football Team organization — and the cover-up that followed. But Gruden loses his job, and that’s it? Still no justice for the victims of the Washington Football Team toxic atmosphere under owner Dan Snyder?
That can’t be.
For the women who held out hope that Snyder would eventually face a greater punishment than the $10 million cost-of-doing-business fine the NFL levied against the organization, and for the Washington fans who saw this latest scandal as the beginning of the end of the 20-plus year nightmare of Snyder’s ownership, surely there must be more.
The New York Times reported Monday that over the course of at least seven years, starting in 2011, Gruden and Allen — longtime friends who worked together in Oakland and Tampa — engaged in Neanderthal-level email conversations that included Gruden calling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “f——-” and a “clueless anti-football p——.”
He also criticized Goodell and the league for trying to make the game safer and reduce concussions, and in several instances used offensive language to describe some NFL owners, coaches and journalists.
I’m going to take a leap of faith here and say that Allen — the general manager and then president of the Washington Football Team through this exchange of emails — didn’t express outrage or shock at his good friend’s disturbing comments. I’m guessing he didn’t find them disturbing, given the reported length of time these comments continually took place and their continued friendship.
Allen, remember, was Snyder’s imaginary friend during that time as well, with parties on yachts, private jet scouting trips and office putt-putt tournaments. I’m going to take another leap of faith here and say that Allen didn’t suddenly become a choir boy when he was with the boss.
These leaps of faith are fueled by what we don’t know as much as what we know.
After all, the NFL clearly feared making the results of Wilkinson’s investigation public. It remains a secret document. You have to conclude that what was in the report was more damaging than what had been reported in the Washington Post’s stories of the women who stepped forward to talk about the bullying and sexual harassment that ruled the franchise.
The Gruden revelations just raise more concerns that the league is covering up embarrassing information that could further damage Snyder. What is in the rest of those emails?
Former NFL front office executive Andrew Brandt tweeted Monday night, “The NFL got Gruden out with leaks; mission accomplished. But the public/fans/media is going to want to know more about these 650,000 emails. Wasn’t this case about the toxic workplace of the Washington Football Club? This feels like this is just the beginning, not the end.”
Brandt’s reference to the NFL getting Gruden out with leaks refers to the New York Times article. But the reason to get Gruden out of Las Vegas came in a Wall Street Journal article Friday on Gruden’s racist comments in a 10-year-old email about NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith. The Wall Street Journal report made Gruden’s presence in Las Vegas a problem that had to go away. The following New York Times emails, likely coming from the league itself, forced the Raiders hand to get rid of Gruden.
But who supplied the first leak to the Journal?
Let’s connect some dots. The story in question about Washington Football Team emails in the Wall Street Journal was written by Andrew Beaton. He was the same reporter who wrote an embarrassing puff piece in June about Snyder, where the reporter suggested that the owner was “attempting to reform a culture,” as if Snyder was some sort of innocent bystander while decades of dysfunction, destruction and deceit wrecked the Washington franchise.
And then he wrote this: “Before all of that could change, Dan Snyder acknowledges that he had to change himself and become more deeply involved than in the past, when he was often distant from the management of his franchise.”
That’s some creative storytelling right there.
The month before that Snyder story appeared, the team announced the hiring of Will Misselbrook as the organization’s first-ever chief creative and digital officer. According to the team’s website, Misselbrook “will oversee the organization’s storytelling and brand marketing strategies.” Before he came to Washington, he was the “Global Head of Creative for custom content, creative marketing, and original programming across all platforms and consumer touchpoints for The Trust, Wall Street Journal, Barron’s Group, and Dow Jones Media Group.”
The line through all those dots leads to the following question: Why would Snyder or someone in the Washington Football Team organization leak documents to hurt Jon Gruden? Perhaps to hurt Allen in some back-door way.
The Athletic reported that Snyder tried to shortchange Allen on severance pay upon his departure at the end of the 2019 season. Court documents showed Allen took the issue to league arbitration and won his case, although Snyder’s lawyer said the case was settled.
Snyder also has gone to court to try to connect Allen to the smear campaign the owner has alleged took place against him.
Putt-Putt buddies no more, I guess.
Is there anyone among those at NFL headquarters who have access to the 650,000 Wilkinson probe emails — anyone — who might be tempted to leak more emails, either directly or indirectly?
Is there a Frances Haugen out there somewhere in this Washington Football Team scandal? Is there a whistleblower like the woman who was Facebook’s worst nightmare?
I’m not suggesting that the darkness that still hangs over the Washington Football Team is on par with the magnitude of the issues created by a powerful internet giant.
But why does it feel so much more nauseating?
You can hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.