Bruce Allen alleged Commanders leaked Jon Gruden emails: House Oversight Committee findings

Former Washington general manager Bruce Allen alleged Jon Gruden’s racist and homophobic emails from 2014 leading to Gruden resigning as the Raiders’ coach last season were leaked by the Commanders. Allen’s claims became public in the release of the House Oversight Committee’s findings while investigating the Commanders’ workplace environment.

According to the Committee’s findings, “In October 2021, Mr. Allen learned that many of the ‘inappropriate’ emails obtained by Mr. Snyder from his Commanders email account had been leaked to the Wall Street Journal. According to Mr. Allen, when he called NFL’s counsel, Lisa Friel, to complain, she indicated that the Commanders were responsible for the leak, stating: ‘We didn’t do it at the league office. It came out of their side.’”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Gruden resigned from his position as the Raiders’ coach in October 2021 after the release of racist and homophobic emails he sent while employed at ESPN.
  • In November, Gruden filed a lawsuit against the NFL alleging the league leaked those emails to get back at him because of offensive things he had written about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

What Allen said

(Here’s an excerpt from Allen’s testimony)

Allen: “I called Lisa Friel (NFL special counsel for investigations) after I got it, and I said — she couldn’t take my call initially. Because I thought I was giving them a heads-up about it, but I was adamant, ‘What the heck is going on here?’ And you could tell that it was busy, because once again, it was 7 pm our time, so 10 o’clock your all’s time, so — or maybe it’s 9. Maybe it’s the time change thing. Maybe it’s only 9 o’clock. But she says, ‘Yes, we’re aware. It’s bad.’ I said, ‘Well, who in the hell is giving my emails to The Wall Street Journal? Why don’t I — I’m the only person who doesn’t have my own emails. Why?’ And she went on to say, ‘We didn’t do it at the league office. It came out of their side.’ And she said, ‘Well, you know, you don’t look good with this.’ And I said, ‘Can someone tell me what it is? I don’t even know what it is. There’s something that he says is racist and homophobic in an email to me, but I have no idea what you guys are talking about.’ She read Coach Gruden’s line, and I didn’t understand what she read, because I didn’t put together De Smith. I didn’t understand who it was about, and I think it was because I’m angry. And she goes, ‘Yeah, this is a problem.’ And I’ve never talked to her since then.”

Q: “When she said it came out of their side, what did you understand her to mean by that?”

Allen: “She was saying her crew, all the crew that — whoever the crew is on their side who have all my emails, including my mom’s friends, didn’t do it. So she’s pointing a finger at the team — unless there’s another group who has my emails who I don’t know.”

Q: “So Lisa Friel was saying that the NFL hadn’t leaked it and it had come from the team, to your understanding?”

Allen: “Yes. Because there’s only — as far as I know, but I don’t — it’s hard to believe. You would think there’s two entities, and it’s the entities that signed the common interest agreement. So whoever did it or whoever didn’t do it knows exactly who did it, because they have to — they both have to agree to do it or they both did it together.”


Gruden resigned from the Raiders on Oct. 11, 2021, after a New York Times report revealed he used racist, homophobic and sexist language in emails, including some attacking Goodell, over several years while working as an analyst on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

The Athletic obtained an email in which Gruden referenced Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL, by the Rams in 2014, and said Goodell should not have pressured then-Rams head coach Jeff Fisher to draft “queers.”

In other emails, according to the Times, Gruden referred to Goodell on several occasions using homophobic slurs and expletives, and also called him a “clueless anti-football p—-;” denounced the emergence of women as referees; exchanged photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including a photo of two Washington team cheerleaders and said Eric Reid, the former 49ers and Panthers safety who knelt during the national anthem, should be fired.

The Wall Street Journal also reported Gruden used a racist trope common in anti-Black imagery in an email when referring to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith during the 2011 lockout.

The emails — which were sent over a seven-year period to Allen while he worked for the Commanders — were uncovered during the NFL’s investigation into workplace misconduct surrounding Washington’s organization, according to the Times. Gruden worked with Allen in Oakland in his first stint with the Raiders and later with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

On Thursday, the House Oversight Committee investigating the Commanders’ workplace environment said employees faced a toxic workplace culture under team owner Daniel Snyder, who not only permitted the conduct to happen but was also a participant. The findings released Thursday focused on Snyder, team leadership and the NFL’s handling of the claims of a toxic workplace in Washington.

Notable findings by the committee also included Snyder interfering with the investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson by launching a shadow investigation into suspected sources of The Washington Post’s reporting, attempting to block Wilkinson’s access to information and trying to silence employees who could implicate him in misconduct.

In addition to failing to appear at a public hearing, Snyder interfered with the Committee’s investigation by intimidating witnesses and blocking the production of documents. The NFL was aware of serious interference with the Wilkinson investigation but failed to take action to stop it, the committee found.

Required reading

(Photo: Steve Marcus/Getty Images)


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