Nothing against Mark Davis, owner of the Las Vegas Raiders, but the reaction to the controversial emails of former Coach Jon Gruden probably would have been much different if Al Davis, Mark’s father, was still alive.
When the seemingly racist email from Gruden, sent a decade ago when he was a color commentator for ESPN, became public, Mark Davis immediately released a statement saying that the Raiders are against what Gruden was saying.
Gruden remained as coach of the Raiders, who were beaten, 20-9, by the Chicago Bears on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
When more emails were published in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times on Monday showing that Gruden made more racial statements plus homophobic and misogynistic remarks, he resigned as coach of the Raiders in the middle of his second stint with the Silver and Black.
Al Davis built a legacy of inclusion and social sensitivity. He certainly would not have condoned the content of Gruden’s emails and probably would have parted ways with the coach. But he wouldn’t have been quiet about how the Raiders became collateral damage in an investigation aimed at the Washington Football Team.
Known for his history of battling the NFL in the courts, and even then-commission Pete Rozelle, Al Davis would have sought a measure of justice and accountability for the damage done to the Raiders franchise.
This started out as an investigation against the former Washington Redskins, now known as the Washington Football Team, but the person who has been affected most by this is Gruden, coach of the Raiders, and Al Davis always stood up for his team.
The emails were leaked to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and there is no proof who did that, but the suspicion falls directly on the NFL, and Al Davis would have been all over that.
Gruden’s emails to then-President Bruce Allen of the Redskins from before he was coach of the Raiders for a second time, were presented in federal court by attorneys for Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder in mid-June but didn’t become public knowledge until the last week.
Although Gruden’s name is redacted in most of the emails filed in court, replaced with “ESPN Personality,” but his name and personal email address aren’t redacted.
The emails were filed as part of an effort by Snyder’s legal team to compel Allen, who worked for the Redskins from 2009-2019, to produce discovery in connection with a defamation lawsuit Snyder is pursuing in India against a media company called MEAWW for stories it published in July 2020.
During the last week, senior NFL executives provided a summary to Commissioner Roger Goodell and informed Raiders executives about the emails pertaining to Gruden, which led Mark Davis to make his statement condemning them.
Lawyers representing more than 40 former Washington Football Team employees are not happy with the outcome.
“In response to a yearlong investigation in which more than 100 witnesses were interviewed, and which we believe substantiated our clients’ allegations of pervasive harassment, misogyny and abuse at the Washington Football Team, the NFL has chosen to protect owner Dan Snyder,” attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz said in a statement.
“This is truly outrageous, and is a slap in the face to the hundreds of women and former employees who came forward in good faith and at great personal risk to report a culture of abuse at all levels of the Team, including by Snyder himself.”
Reportedly, more than 650,000 emails on the Washington Football Team’s server were reviewed as part of the probe, but basically only those involving Gruden have been released.
When the probe was completed, according to an NFL source not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, the league was informed about the existence of emails that “raised issues beyond the scope of that investigation.”
Lawyers involved in the case against Snyder and the NFL Players Association have asked that all of the emails be made public, but so far the league has refused. Pressure to release all of the emails increases every day and Al Davis would have done his best to create even more pressure.
The Raiders are in Las Vegas now, and if Al Davis—who passed away in 2011—was still alive, you could bet he would be taking more than a few people to court. Not defending Gruden, but protecting his beloved Raiders organization.
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