LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is suing the National Football League and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, over his resignation last month, a resignation he describes in court paperwork as “forced.”
The lawsuit, filed in Clark County District Court, claims the NFL and Goodell “through a malicious and orchestrated campaign… sought to destroy” Gruden’s reputation.
Gruden resigned from the Raiders on Oct. 11 after emails surfaced showing he used racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments.
The announcement was imminent after a New York Times investigation revealed Gruden had not only used racist comments in an email in 2011, but had regularly used derogatory language in emails during his employment with ESPN.
The report specifically noted that for several years, Gruden “casually and frequently unleashed misogynist and homophobic language… to denigrate people around the game and to mock some of the league’s momentous changes.”
Gruden’s racist comments came under fire after the first email was made public and revealed Gruden wrote emails complaining about then head of the NFL’s Players Association, DeMaurice Smith, and to Bruce Allen, then with the Washington Football Team that “Dumboriss Smith has lips the size of Michelin tires.”
“The complaint alleges that the defendants selectively leaked Gruden’s private correspondence to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times in order to harm Gruden’s reputation and force him out of his job,” Adam Hosmer-Henner, attorney at McDonald Carano for Gruden, said in a statement. “There is no explanation or justification for why Gruden’s emails were the only ones made public out of the 650,000 emails collected in the NFL’s investigation of the Washington Football Team or for why the emails were held for months before being released in the middle of the Raiders’ season.”
Gruden signed a $100 million contract with the then-Oakland Raiders in 2018. According to the lawsuit, he is not being paid the remaining balance on the contract, which runs through 2027. His lawyers also write Gruden is losing out on endorsement deals, including one with footwear company Skechers.
“Gruden has likewise suffered significant injuries to his reputation that will affect his future employment prospects and endorsement opportunities,” the lawsuit says. “So far, those injuries already include the removal of his name from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium and the removal of his name from other charitable institutions that have benefited from his donations.”
“The allegations are entirely meritless and the NFL will vigorously defend against these claims,” a spokesman for the NFL said in a statement.
The lawsuit seeks a jury award Gruden damages for his resignation. A court date had not been set as of Friday afternoon.
When he resigned last month, Gruden released the following statement: “I have resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. 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.”