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Law

NFL Seeks to Delay Jon Gruden Proceedings Pending Expected Appeal

  • Gruden's lawsuit over the leaked emails that led to his resignation has survived multiple challenges.
  • The NFL plans appeal of a judge's denial of its motion to compel arbitration.
Jon Gruden
Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has been dealt two setbacks as it defends the lawsuit brought by former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden. On Thursday, lawyers for the league will request a timeout. 

A hearing is scheduled where the NFL will argue to stay the proceedings ahead of a planned appeal of District Court Judge Nancy Allf’s decision to deny the league’s request to compel arbitration. 

“The only conceivable ‘harm’ Gruden could face if the stay is granted is a delay in litigation proceedings — a ‘harm’ Nevada state courts have repeatedly found to be insufficient to defeat a stay,” Mitchell J. Langberg, one of the NFL’s outside attorneys, argued in a recent court filing. “The NFL parties, by contrast, will suffer irreparable harm — the loss of their bargained-for benefits of arbitration — if the stay is denied.”

In a filing Wednesday, Gruden’s lawyers described the the NFL’s appeal efforts as “frivolous” and the “defendants do not have a serious likelihood of success on the merits.” Gruden’s legal team also described the NFL seeking a stay and an appeal as a stalling tactic.

The NFL has largely been successful over the years in getting lawsuits placed into arbitration, where the proceedings are out of the public eye.  Allf’s denial of the NFL’s motion to compel arbitration last week, and another expected denial of the league’s motion to dismiss, means that the case would move forward unless the NFL is successful on appeal. 

“The NFL is trying to put a bow on the Washington saga,” said sports attorney Dan Lust of the firm Moritt Hock & Hamroff. “This case is about those emails and the very nature of NFL investigations. It could be very problematic for the case to proceed in open court.”

Gruden seeks unspecified monetary damages in the lawsuit, but the major aim appears to be to find out who leaked the sexist, homophobic, and racist emails he exchanged with former Washington Commanders executive Bruce Allen that led to his abrupt resignation last October.

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Gruden alleged in the lawsuit that the emails were “leaked to the national media in the middle of the Raiders’ season in order to cause maximum damage to Gruden.”

The NFL has denied it was the source of the emails, which were obtained during the first outside investigation into the Commanders led by former assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Wilkinson. 

Days after the emails were leaked, the House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the Commanders. After a former employee told the committee in February that Snyder sexually harrassed her at a work event, the NFL called for another outside investigation. 

Snyder denied the allegation. 

The House Oversight Committee’s final investigative findings are expected to be released in the coming weeks. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters on Tuesday there was no timetable for the league’s second outside investigation, a probe led by former SEC chief Mary Jo White. 

In May, Allf denied the NFL’s original bids to dismiss and compel arbitration. 

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