NFL scores legal victory in ex-Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s lawsuit against league

NFL scores legal victory in ex-Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s lawsuit against league

Jon Gruden’s lawsuit against the NFL will be moved behind closed doors after the Nevada Supreme Court handed the league a significant legal victory Tuesday.

By a 2-1 margin, the highest court in the state reversed an earlier decision that would’ve allowed Gruden’s lawsuit against the NFL to move forward in public, instead determining that it falls under the league’s arbitration provision.

The ruling essentially means that, barring a successful appeal, the claims in Gruden’s lawsuit will be dealt with outside of the public eye − with commissioner Roger Goodell, or someone appointed by him, overseeing the league’s arbitration proceedings.

The NFL and Gruden’s attorney did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Gruden, the former head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, sued the league and commissioner Roger Goodell in November 2021 after multiple news outlets published excerpts of leaked emails he wrote from 2011-18, when he was working as an NFL analyst for ESPN. The emails, in which Gruden used homophobic and misogynistic language, led to his resignation as Raiders coach.

Gruden argued in the lawsuit that Goodell and the league deliberately leaked the emails, which were obtained as part of a separate investigation into the then-Washington Football Team, in a “malicious and orchestrated campaign” to destroy his career. The NFL called Gruden’s claims “baseless” and wrote in a filing that “he has no one to blame but himself.”

In the years since, much of the legal fight between the two sides has centered on whether the dispute should proceed publicly in a Nevada district court or privately in arbitration. The league generally tries to keep its disputes behind closed doors by pointing to the broad arbitration clause in its constitution, to which all league employees must agree. But Gruden’s lawyers have argued that the arbitration clause should not apply in this case for a variety of reasons, including that the former coach was no longer a league employee at the time of the dispute.

Gruden also argued that the notion of Goodell serving as the arbitrator in a dispute to which he is a party is “unconscionable,” while the NFL has noted that the commissioner has the ability to appoint a third party to oversee disputes and could do so again in this case.

Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on social media @Tom_Schad.

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