The NFL filed a response Wednesday to Jon Gruden‘s lawsuit against the league— asking a Nevada court to dismiss the case over what it called a “baseless” attempt to blame the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell for the former Las Vegas Raiders coach’s disparaging emails that cost him his job.
The league’s lawyers argued that Gruden‘s lawsuit fails to “state a single viable cause of action,” writing that Gruden “has no one but to blame but himself” for sending the messages, which were unearthed as part of the NFL‘s investigation into the Washington Football Team’s workplace misconduct and eventually leaked to the media. Gruden sent the emails over a seven-year span to former Washington president Bruce Allen and other corporate executives, using homophobic and offensive language while employed for ESPN.
In his lawsuit, Gruden had accused the NFL of coordinating a “Soviet-style character assassination” and used old emails to “sabotage” Gruden‘s career. After the emails were leaked to multiple outlets in October, Gruden stepped down from his job with the Raiders — and the former coach filed a lawsuit against the league a month later.
The NFL‘s lawyers wrote that Gruden had “no expectation of privacy” when he wrote the emails, but denied leaking the materials.
“Despite the clear risk that his emails would be forwarded, downloaded, printed, or otherwise monitored by any recipient workplace domain … Gruden proceeded to send profane, misogynistic, homophobic, and racist emails out to a group of individuals, including to a WFT-hosted email address,” the NFL lawyers’ wrote, according to The Washington Post. “As such, Gruden primarily assumed the risk that his emails could be circulated beyond the original recipient group, and possessed and distributed by the WFT, NFL and others.”
In a separate motion, the league also asked the court to force Gruden to settle the dispute in arbitration, citing the terms of his former contract with the NFL.
In its motion to dismiss, the league argued that even if it did leak the emails, it had a right to disclose truthful information to the media. The attorneys wrote that the league had a write to suspend or cancel Gruden‘s contract over the content of the messages.
“Gruden does not, and cannot, dispute that he wrote the published emails. He does not, and cannot, dispute that he sent those emails to multiple parties,” the league wrote. “Nor does he claim that they were somehow altered or edited and that the repugnant views espoused in them were not in fact expressed by him. Instead, Gruden filed the instant complaint against the NFL and the commissioner, painting himself as the victim in a fictional story and seeking money through baseless claims against the NFL.”