John Gruden may have lost the initial fight, but it will be NFL commissioner Roger Goodell who ultimately loses the war. This is the opinion of Sam Mirejovsky, the attorney acting on behalf of Gruden, in his legal action against the NFL.
Last season, the former ESPN analyst resigned from his position as the Las Vegas Raiders HC after racist and homophobic emails sent 10 years prior were leaked to the press.
The Super Bowl winning coach is now taking on Goddell and the NFL in court, alleging that the NFL purposely leaked his private correspondence in order to destroy his career. Gruden's emails emerged as a by-product of an NFL investigation into toxic work cultures in the Washington Commanders franchise.
"I predict that this suit will ultimately cost Goodell his job. With adversaries like Gruden and Davis, Goodell faces a discovery effort that will look to uncover evidence of Goodell's own wrongdoing. In today's digital world -- the same one that hung Gruden out to dry -- I find it inconceivable that there isn't SOMETHING out there that could kill Goodell's career."
The NFL was unable to take any action against the former head coach at the time because the emails were sent during a period where he wasn't employed by them. However, the public backlash was overwhelming, causing him to resign from his job.
Is John Gruden's case a real concern for the NFL?
Simply put, yes, there is considerable cause for concern. There are two hugely problematic issues for the NFL and Commissioner Goddell.
This, of course, isn't the league's first rodeo when it comes to defending itself against legal action. In fact, they get so much practice, they have effectively developed a tried and tested approach which they implement religiously.
The league will attempt to force any legal case into private arbitration. This ensures nothing unwelcome for the NFL will get into the public domain. It also gives them complete control over the process, and they in effect become the judge, jury and executioner.
This game plan is successful 99 times out of 100. Gruden's case is number 100, as a Nevada judge has rejected the NFL's request for private arbitration, meaning as it stands, the case can proceed to open court. This is one almighty problem for Goddell and company.
The second difficulty facing the NFL relates directly to Gruden's emails. These were uncovered during the Washington investigation, and are the only emails to have ever seen the light of day as the other 650k have remained under wraps, and the league has fought tooth and nail to keep it that way.
Should this case proceed to open court, the former Raiders coach could force their release. This could be a huge problem for a lot of people, including the commissioner.
It would reopen the entire Washington case, for which the league has faced fierce criticism. But beyond that, who knows what other skeletons are in those emails? There could be incendiary correspondence from high-profile people all around the NFL and it coming to light would be devastating to their reputations.
So is Goddell's neck on the line? Absolutely, and he's not the only one.