Opinion: Jon Gruden's vile emails will taint NFL until it comes clean about Washington investigation
The summary of the Ray Rice investigation took 96 pages. The report on bullying allegations against Richie Incognito and the Miami Dolphins was a robust 144 pages. Detailing the who, what, when, where, why and how of Deflategate took an excruciating 243 pages.
The yearlong investigation into the toxic, frat house atmosphere of Daniel Snyder’s Washington Football Team? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell let that one pass with a book report.
No written report of the findings. No addressing specific allegations to protect the privacy of those involved. And the most high-profile casualty was, naturally, now-former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden.
It is worth asking, again: Who exactly is the NFL trying to protect? Maybe the better question, given that the league reviewed 650,000 emails and only Gruden’s racist, homophobic and misogynistic rants got leaked, is why?
There’s a real easy way to clear all of this up: Make the results of the investigation public. The emails, the findings, the settlements – all of it.
Sure, it will probably embarrass the league and perhaps one of its most visible owners. It is likely to confirm what everyone suspects, that the NFL is an old boys club where white privilege and toxic masculinity are firmly entrenched.
Odds are it won’t change much. Fans and even players have had little appetite for holding the league and owners accountable for misdeeds.
But there is one powerful incentive for both the league and the rest of the owners. Unless the NFL comes clean about all the despicable things it uncovered at the Washington Football Team, Goodell, league executives and the other owners are going to be mired in that same vile muck.
We know Gruden and Bruce Allen, Washington’s former president, traded pornographic photos and felt free to say things in emails they would never dare say in public. Who else joined them? Who else disparaged players, female referees or union leaders? Who else would face a backlash from ticket holders for what they say in the comfort of their stadium suite?
Gruden’s emails were an infinitesimal fraction of what the league reviewed this year. Unless there’s full transparency of the rest of them, everyone is suspect.
And I do mean everyone.
Snyder. Other owners. GMs. Coaches. Media partners, especially since Gruden’s emails were sent when he was a popular analyst for ESPN’s "Monday Night Football."
Even Goodell himself.
By trying to protect his beloved shield in this case, Goodell instead has allowed it to be tarnished. Do other owners and league officials really want to be guilty by association with the Grudens and the Allens of the NFL?
It’s not as if the women who were demeaned and objectified at the Washington Football Club asked for this veil of secrecy. Nor did the investigator. Quite the opposite.
Beth Wilkinson, the attorney who led the Washington Football Team investigation, battled the team’s former attorney in court over documents related to a sexual misconduct allegation against Snyder.
Melanie Coburn, a former Washington cheerleader who was the squad’s marketing director from 2001 to 2011, started a petition eight months ago asking the NFL to make Wilkinson’s investigation public.
“The NFL must do the right thing and make the sexual misconduct investigation of the WFT public AND hold Dan Snyder accountable for the history of sexual harassment within his organization,” the petition reads.
As of Tuesday morning, it had more than 39,000 signatures.
DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association and one of the targets of Gruden’s bigotry, said the union wants the other emails released.
“We have had communications with the league, and the NFLPA plans to request that the NFL release the rest of the emails,” Smith told USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones on Tuesday.
Instead of shielding the NFL from further embarrassment, hiding the truth maligns everyone else in the league.
Follow USA TODAY Sports columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.