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Sale of Washington Commanders under threat due to John Gruden email case complications. What do we know?

What appeared to be a straightforward sale, now appears to be hindered by significant legal complications surrounding the owner‘s ties to the email scandal.

What appeared to be a straightforward sale, now appears to be hindered by significant legal complications surrounding the owner‘s ties to the email scandal.
Rob CarrGetty Images

As things stand, NFL owners will meet next week to vote on Daniel Snyder’s sale of the Washington Commanders to a group led by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris for an estimated $6.05 billion, however, it appears there may be some serious roadblocks.

Trouble is following Daniel Snyder

According to reports, the sale of the Washington Commanders may have hit a serious stumbling block after it was revealed that there are legal issues that directly relate to the leaking of emails, that led to the October 2021 resignation of Jon Gruden as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Complications in the deal have been described as “significant” and “not just some small snag,” such that it now seems the approval of the sale from fellow owners, and subsequent closure of the deal could be delayed. On the other hand, it is also understood that the possibility exists that this could simply be a ploy on the part of Snyder and his legal team as they attempt to secure some form of indemnification from the NFL where Gruden’s lawsuit against the league is concerned. Regardless, with owners set to meet next Thursday, we will have a conclusion one way or another.

What’s going on with Dan Snyder & the Jon Gruden emails?

What’s understood at the moment, is that Snyder is not seeking indemnification from the other owners and the league for his own legal liability, but rather is unwilling to indemnify the league and other owners from liability related to the Gruden case. More specifically, Snyder’s lawyers are maintaining that he should not be liable for any actions taken by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, or league attorney Jeffrey Pash in connection with the case.

If you need a recap, Gruden resigned in 2021 after news broke in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times in which excerpts of emails from the former coach and longtime commentator repeatedly used racist, sexist, and homophobic language and slurs. Indeed, such terms were even used in reference to Goodell himself and NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. Gruden later filed a lawsuit accusing the league of leaking the emails in an attempt to derail his career. He has since stated that he will not accept a settlement, as he intends to “burn the house down” in order to reveal the source of the leaks. Gruden has also claimed that the 650,000 emails at the center of the case “incriminate everyone in the league.”

What’s been said in response to John Gruden’s stance?

As you can probably guess, the NFL has denied leaking the emails, as have Snyder, his wife Tanya (the team’s co-CEO), and the team itself. Do recall that the league along with the House Oversight Committee already conducted an official probe into the Washington Commanders and its allegedly toxic workplace environment. Indeed, it was that investigation that led to pressure on Snyder to sell. There is also a second investigation into the team that is currently in progress. As for Goodell, he has stated that he will release all findings of the investigation to the public even if the team is finally sold.