It Sure Sounds Like Jon Gruden is Not Going to Take His Banishment Lying Down

Chris Unger. Getty Images.

Whatever else we know or don't know about the situation that caused Jon Gruden to quit pro football, these two things can be truths at the same time:

1. The shit he said in those emails, even 10 years ago, are indefensible.

2. What was done to him was wrong. 

It's not paradoxical to say that he was in the wrong but was still done dirty. Yes, he shouldn't have been making jokes about the lips of the head of the Players Association like he was 1940s Walt Disney. Yet we have to acknowledge that somebody, somewhere, who had access to those 650,000 emails specifically ordered a Code Red on him. Maybe it was the NFL. Some are accusing the Washington Football Team. But whoever the culprit is, they had a hair across their ass for Gruden and the targeted leaks succeeded in plucking it. 

Which brings us to Gruden himself, who, for the first time since his resignation has finally said something about the situation.

Source - Andrea Kremer, who recently profiled Raiders owner Mark Davis for [HBO's "Real Sports"], explains on the latest episode of the Real Sports Podcast that a producer recently cold-called Gruden. 

“Maggie Burbank, who produced the story that we just did on Mark Davis, she actually called Gruden and he picked up the phone, much to I think her surprise,” Kremer said. “And he’s still in Las Vegas. . . . He says he’s letting the dust settle. He said, ‘People who know me know what I stand for for 58 years. I have a resume of 58 years.’ He said, ‘The truth will come out.’ It’s certainly cryptic.”

And how will that truth come out? PFT goes on to explain:

If Gruden is so inclined, he could pursue those truths by paying the ultimate homage to the late Al Davis.

Gruden could sue the NFL.

The basic theory, if pursued in Nevada, would be “intentional interference with contractual relations.” The argument would be that the NFL put the kibosh on Gruden’s ongoing business interests with the Raiders by weaponizing supposedly secret emails in a way that ended his employment with the team.

Obviously, he wouldn’t be the most sympathetic plaintiff. He wrote the offensive emails that triggered his resignation. But the NFL, after insisting that none of the emails would be made public, harvested some of them with the intention of sending them to the Raiders — even though the emails were sent by Gruden at a time when he didn’t work for the Raiders.

Agreed. Gruden certainly wouldn't be the most sympathetic plaintiff ever. Then again, neither would the NFL. The two would be the least likable opposing sides in a lawsuit since the Vinklevii Twins and Mark Zuckerberg. But ultimately I think the public would side with Gruden. One, he's been a wildly popular public figure since he took over the Raiders in the 1990s. Two, America likes underdogs and will default to supporting one man against a massively powerful entity. And three, while we like hearing dirt on our celebrities, we hate rats. Someone dropped a dime on a guy the country has liked for decades in order to destroy him, and that kind of slimy, underhanded bullshit doesn't fly with your average American. 

Which is why this will never happen. If Gruden does sue - and I pray he does - there's no way the league takes this to court and exposes its operatives to answering questions under oath. To have to explain things like, who got the emails? Who leaked them? Why? What's in the other 649,995? Who else got the photos of the Washington cheerleaders nip slips? What else was revealed by the investigation into the WFT that cost them $10 million? Where exactly on Roger Goodell's body is the "666" birthmark?

That's a 50-gallon drum of worms the NFL will never allow to be opened. So they'll settle this the way they always do, with a giant check and a non-disclosure agreement, while Gruden's reputation remains burned to the ground. It would be fun to have it play out in court. But I'm afraid that'll never happen. 

The best we can hope for is that Gruden goes public with what he knows about the people who done him in. I for one will be staying tuned for that.