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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Law

Jon Gruden Files Response to NFL’s Appeal

  • Last year, a district judge twice ruled against the NFL’s motions to dismiss the lawsuit or compel arbitration.
  • Gruden sued the NFL seeking the balance of his 10-year, $100 million contract he signed in 2018.
Gruden Hearing
A.J. Perez/FOS

Jon Gruden’s attorney laid out a colorful example of why the former Las Vegas Raiders coach’s lawsuit against the NFL shouldn’t be shifted to an arbitration process overseen by Commissioner Roger Goodell. 

“If the Commissioner physically assaulted an individual who played football decades ago, the Commissioner could still compel arbitration of that individual’s civil claims on the same theories the NFL Parties present now,” Gruden’s attorney Adam Hosmer-Henner wrote in a Nevada State Supreme Court filing on Thursday. 

Last year, District Court Judge Nancy Allf twice ruled against the NFL’s motions to dismiss the lawsuit or compel arbitration in the case brought by Gruden over allegations the league was behind the leaked emails that led to his resignation as coach of the Raiders in October 2021. 

Gruden sued the NFL a month later, seeking the balance of his 10-year, $100 million contract he signed in 2018. Gruden settled with the Raiders, and the team is not a defendant in the case. 

The NFL has denied being the source of the emails obtained as part of the league’s first outside investigation of the Washington Commanders. Those emails between Gruden and then-Commanders exec Bruce Allen contained racist, misogynistic, and homophobic exchanges published in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.  

Those emails were sent between 2010 and 2018 when Gruden was an ESPN analyst, something Allf noted in a May hearing. 

“The emails were sent before he signed the contract [to become the Raiders’ head coach],” Allf said. 

Hosmer-Henner also wrote that the arbitration provision that was part of Gruden’s contract with the Raiders ceased when he resigned from the Raiders. 

“It would be preposterous for the NFL to continue to insist that Commissioner Goodell maintained any authority over him,” Hosmer-Henner wrote. 

After Allf ruled against the NFL again in October, the NFL filed a notice of appeal. A stay was issued as the Nevada State Supreme Court decides the case. 

While the emails came before the Raiders hired Gruden and the lawsuit was filed after Gruden was no longer under contract with the Raiders, NFL attorneys wrote in its appeal that he’s still subject to arbitration.

“Courts construe arbitration agreements with similar language broadly, such that even matters tangential to the agreement are subject to arbitration,” attorneys for the league wrote in a February appellate brief. “That standard is satisfied here because respondent alleges that appellants caused the termination of his coaching contract and seeks damages in the form of the benefits he lost under that contract.” 

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