Wednesday September 27, 2023

Former Commanders Exec Bruce Allen Deposed by Congress

  • Allen, who was fired as team president in December 2019, spoke to the House Oversight Committee.
  • Jon Gruden resigned as the Las Vegas Raiders' head coach after emails with Allen surfaced.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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Former Washington Commanders exec Bruce Allen sat for a deposition in front of a congressional committee on Tuesday, an interview that could have implications beyond Congress’ nearly year-long probe of the team. 

Staffers on the the House Oversight Committee interviewed Allen via Zoom for about 10 hours, a span that was just short of the committee’s marathon deposition of Commanders owner Dan Snyder in July.

Allen appeared under a subpoena as others have who appeared behind closed doors — minus Snyder — during Congress’ probe, a source with knowledge of the matter told Front Office Sports. 

That same source told FOS that Allen — who has been out of the public eye since he was fired as team president in December 2019 after a decade with the team — was eager to participate in the deposition.

“The Committee is continuing to investigate the decades-long workplace misconduct at the Washington Commanders and the NFL’s failure to address it,” an Oversight Committee spokesperson said in a statement before the deposition began. “Mr. Allen served in senior roles under team owner Dan Snyder for many years, so his testimony is important for the Committee to fully understand these serious issues and advance reforms to protect workers in the future.”

Messages left with Allen’s lawyers by FOS were not immediately returned after the deposition concluded around 9:30 pm ET.

Racist, misogynistic, and homophobic messages exchanged between Jon Gruden and Allen — which were culled from Allen’s team email account — were published by The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Gruden resigned under pressure as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

The emails were exchanged between 2010 and 2018 when Gruden was an ESPN analyst. 

The Oversight Committee’s investigation of the Commanders launched its investigation days after the emails surfaced. The probe initially focused on allegations of a toxic workplace culture, but expanded to include alleged financial improprieties. 

Gruden filed a lawsuit in November against the NFL where he alleged the league was behind “a malicious and orchestrated campaign” to oust him. That lawsuit is ongoing in a Nevada court, although the NFL recently filed motions to dismiss and/or relegate the case to arbitration. 

The NFL and Commanders have denied being the source of the reported emails. A person close to Allen told FOS that the former Commanders, Buccaneers, and Raiders exec was not the source. 

The Oversight Committee has received thousands of documents from the NFL, but not the 650,000 emails obtained as part of an outside NFL investigation of the Commanders overseen by former assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Wilkinson. 

Wilkinson concluded her investigation in July 2021, which led the NFL to fine the Commanders $10 million, and the team instituted many of Wilkinson’s recommendations to improve workplace culture. 

Another outside NFL investigation, this time led by former head of the Securities and Exchange Commission May Jo White, is ongoing. 

Some of the Gruden emails did appear in Snyder’s legal team’s maneuvering as part of an offensive in federal courts related to a lawsuit brought against an Indian media company that allegedly led an misinformation campaign against Snyder. 

Allen was among the targets of federal petitions as Snyder’s lawyers sought to gain information related to that lawsuit. 

But Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the chair of the Oversight Committee, said at a June hearing that the effort was really part of “a shadow investigation to target his accusers, pin the blame on others, and influence the NFL’s own internal review. He filed phony lawsuits to collect private phone records, emails, and text messages.”

A handful of Gruden’s email exchanges from Allen’s team account appeared in federal petitions, although the documents had Gruden’s name redacted with “ESPN Personality” inserted instead.

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