The league remained unwavering in that stance Tuesday even as the NFL Players Association and others connected to the investigation sought access to more information about a trove of emails obtained by attorney Beth Wilkinson during her probe of the team’s workplace.
Jon Gruden resigned Monday as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after reports that he used racist, homophobic and misogynistic language in emails to Bruce Allen, Washington’s former team president, and others. Allen faces no immediate formal discipline, but it would be “highly unlikely” the NFL would permit Allen to work in the league again, the person with knowledge of the matter said Tuesday.
According to that person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, it is not expected any NFL franchise will pursue Allen, who has been out of the league since Washington team owner Daniel Snyder fired him as team president in December 2019.
Allen did not respond to a request for comment.
Wilkinson was hired by Snyder last year, after employees told The Washington Post of sexual harassment and a toxic workplace inside his Washington Football Team. The Post also uncovered two lewd videos of outtakes of swimsuit calendar shoots that cheerleaders said were secretly produced without their knowledge. Two former team employees said then-senior vice president Larry Michael asked for the videos to be produced, and one of them said Michael told them the footage was to be assembled for Snyder. Snyder and Michael have denied any knowledge of the videos, copies of which were obtained by The Post.
The NFL later assumed oversight of Wilkinson’s investigation, and in July the league fined the team $10 million after hearing Wilkinson’s findings. But it only broadly described a “toxic” workplace culture without releasing any of the uncovered emails or a written summary of her work. Wilkinson declined to comment for this story.
Melanie Coburn, a former cheerleader who worked in marketing for the squad from 2001 to 2011, accused the league of burying damaging details of the investigation into the Washington Football Team, which were only revealed in recent stories about the emails between Gruden and Allen.
The New York Times reported Monday that Gruden exchanged emails with Allen and other men that included “photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders.” The Post could not verify that the women were in fact cheerleaders.
“We deserve to know if cheerleaders were exploited and violated even more than we knew before,” Coburn said. “This has been such a painful experience for so many of us, and there has been no transparency, no accountability. We’ve been given nothing.”
The NFLPA said through a spokesman that it plans to ask the league to provide the union with the emails from the investigation. Gruden used racist language in one email to disparage DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFLPA.
Attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent more than 40 former Washington Football Team employees, called for the league to release the findings of the investigation publicly.
“It is truly outrageous that after the NFL’s 10-month-long investigation involving hundreds of witnesses and 650,000 documents related to the longtime culture of harassment and abuse at the Washington Football Team, the only person to be held accountable and lose their job is the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders,” they said in a statement. “Our clients and the public at large deserve transparency and accountability. If not, the NFL and Roger Goodell must explain why they appear intent on protecting the Washington Football Team and owner Dan Snyder at all costs.”
Snyder’s lawyers, who probably would have been involved in discussions with Wilkinson about evidence she collected and her findings, had at least some of these Gruden emails in their possession as early as June, according to filings in federal court in Arizona.
That month, Snyder’s lawyers attached to a court filing heavily redacted copies of two emails Allen exchanged with Gruden that were referenced in Monday’s New York Times report. In one, Gruden allegedly called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a “clueless anti-football p---y.” In another, Gruden wrote that Goodell should not have pressured the Rams to draft “queers,” a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player the team selected in 2014.
Gruden’s and Goodell’s names were redacted from court filings. Snyder’s lawyers attached the emails to motions seeking subpoenas to force Allen to turn over emails, text messages and other documents. In the court filings, Snyder’s lawyers accused Allen of serving as a source for baseless stories published by an Indian website last year connecting Snyder to Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier and convicted sex offender. Allen denied serving as a source for the stories, and Snyder’s lawyers dismissed their case in August.
In announcing his resignation, Gruden said in a statement: “I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”
The NFL said Friday that it condemned Gruden’s 2011 email to Allen disparaging Smith. Gruden worked for ESPN at the time. The league sent the Raiders additional emails late last week in which Gruden used homophobic and misogynistic language to describe people and events within the sport and other public figures, according to a person familiar with the matter. The content of those emails was first reported by the Times.
The additional emails sent to the Raiders spanned from 2011 to roughly 2017, according to the person with knowledge. The emails were sent from Gruden to Allen and other associates.
The NFL waited for Raiders owner Mark Davis to take action. Davis met Monday with Gruden before Gruden’s resignation announcement.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, formerly coached by Gruden, announced Tuesday that he will no longer be a member of the team’s ring of honor. “While we acknowledge Jon Gruden’s contributions on the field,” the Buccaneers said in a statement, “his actions go against our core values as an organization.”
Liz Clarke contributed to this report.