Nevada Supreme Court directs Jon Gruden's case against NFL to arbitration

The Nevada Supreme Court has banged a gavel. But it hasn't knocked on wood.

The highest court in the state that the Raiders call home has ruled against former head coach Jon Gruden in his effort to pursue his civil lawsuit against the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell in open court. Gruden will instead be required to make his case in arbitration. Also known in some circles (okay, right here) as a secret, rigged, kangaroo court.

Via A.J. Perez of, the three-judge panel ruled 2-1 to overturn a lower-court ruling that would have allowed Gruden to sue the NFL and Goodell in court.

The argument was based not on an arbitration clause in Gruden's contract, but on language in the NFL's Constitution & Bylaws giving the Commissioner the exclusive ability to resolve matters involving conduct detrimental to the league.

“Public policy favors enforcement of a valid arbitration clause and we cannot say with positive assurance that the NFL Constitution arbitration clause is not susceptible to the NFL Parties’ interpretation,” the 19-page ruling explains, via Perez. “We therefore conclude that Gruden must submit to arbitration under the NFL Constitution arbitration clause.”

The conclusion defies a commonsensical reading of the relevant provision of the document, in our opinion. Article 8.3(E) provides that "[t]he Commissioner shall have full, complete, and final jurisdiction and authority to arbitrate . . . [a]ny dispute involving a member or members in the League or any players or employees of the members of the League or any combination thereof that in the opinion of the Commissioner constitutes conduct detrimental to the best interests of the League or professional football."

In his lawsuit, Gruden accuses the NFL and Goodell of intentional interference with his business relationships, through the weaponizing of supposedly confidential emails from the Washington/Daniel Snyder investigation by leaking them to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Here, the Commissioner is basically being accused of committing the detrimental conduct. So the end result is that he can activate a process that lets him resolve a case in which his conduct is being attacked?

They say bad facts make bad law. And that might be what happened here. Two of the three Nevada Supreme Court justices might have been unable to set aside the troubling and inappropriate content of the emails sent by Gruden (at a time when he was employed by ESPN) and to focus on the alleged misconduct of the league and whether the Commissioner should have the power to divert the fight into a secret tribunal that seems to be far more obsessed with concealing facts than uncovering them.

It literally came down to one person. Two judges favored arbitration. One favored letting the case play out in court.

It means Gruden will inevitably lose or, at best, he won't win nearly as convincingly as he would have. The rest of us lose, too, because we will likely never know who made the decision to use the confidential emails to force Gruden out of his job just a handful of weeks into the 2021 season.

The league loves to say it always safeguards the integrity of the game. Someone dramatically undermined the integrity of the 2021 season by leaking those emails at a time when they were calculated to force Gruden out with more than half of the team's games to be played.

It could have been handled before the season. It could have been handled during the season. Whoever leaked the emails directly impacted the 32-team chase for a championship by throwing the Raiders out of whack. Which necessarily undermined any wagers based on the Raiders' eventual performance that year.

That's the problem that will never be adequately addressed, not with the case in arbitration. We're a;; entitled to know who ordered the Code Red at a time when it torpedoed the Raiders' season. With the case sent to the secret, rigged, kangaroo court, we likely never will.