Report: Raiders Owner Thinks Gruden Email Leaks Were “Hit Job” By NFL

Mark Davis reportedly believes that the NFL is out to get the Raiders

Raiders owner Mark Davis and former head coach Jon Gruden
Raiders owner Mark Davis and former head coach Jon Gruden.
Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty

Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis believes that inflammatory and offensive emails from former coach Jon Gruden being leaked to media outlets like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal was an intentional ploy by “influential figures within the league office” to force the 58-year-old out of the NFL, sources indicated to CBS.

After becoming “very emotional” at the meeting where Gruden announced his resignation, Davis is now “mulling potential legal options” over what he believes were “calculated media leaks of the emails.”

“He thinks the league office is out to get him,” a source who has spoken to Davis told CBS. “He thinks it’s a hit job.”

The NFL has denied being behind the leaked emails, but Davis previously went on the record indicating he does not believe that is true. “Ask the NFL,” Davis said on Wednesday last week. “They have all the answers.”

Yesterday, following Sunday’s win over the Broncos, Davis somewhat changed his tune and also seemed to push back against some of the sentiment expressed by CBS’s sources.

“Listen, the Raiders stand for diversity, inclusion and social justice. We always have and we always will,” Davis told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “The emails that came out are not what we stand for. So Jon Gruden is no longer head coach of the Raiders. There’s not much more I can say. All the talking heads are making up all sorts of stuff. That’s all it is. We don’t stand for it.”

Whatever the Raiders do or don’t stand for publicly or privately, this saga (which was just parodied on Saturday Night Live) does not appear to be over for Las Vegas and Davis, as there was reportedly no legal discussion of Gruden’s contract at the time of his abrupt departure from the team last week. As such, the team will likely have to work out a settlement with Gruden, who was due about $40 million over the first five years of the 10-year, $100 million contract he signed in 2018 to leave ESPN and coach the team, per the NFL Network.

Had Gruden’s racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails never seen the light of day, he’d still be coaching the team, and no legal wrangling or contract settlement would be required. If Davis does choose to pursue the matter and find out how and why the leaks occurred, he may have some legal ground to do so.

“Whether it would have been right or wrong for Davis to keep Gruden, it’s fair to wonder whether Davis would have turned his team upside down absent the intense public scrutiny that came from the leaks,” per ProFootballTalk. “Even if things would have ended up in the same spot, Davis has a right to be upset that someone forced his hand by leaking the secret emails to the media.”

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