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During a Monday visit to The Rich Eisen Show, the topic emerged of Jon Gruden’s pending lawsuit against the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell. Will Gruden’s litigation create any distractions or complications for the Raiders in 2022?
Most likely, it won’t. Most likely, the case will be caught up in the appeals process for all of the coming season, and beyond.
On May 25, Judge Nancy Allf issued from the bench a denial of the NFL’s motion to dismiss the case, along with its motion to force the case to arbitration. Typically, the lawyer representing the prevailing party is then invited to draft a proposed order reflecting the decision, with the paperwork circulated among the parties and tendered to the judge for official approval and execution.
The window at that point will open on the NFL’s right to appeal the ruling. Since it’s not a final ruling, the NFL will need to persuade the court to press pause on the case as the appeal proceeds. Given the significance of the question of whether a case will or won’t be forced into private arbitration, the judge easily could be inclined to permit the appeal to happen. (If the judge refuses, the NFL can ask the appeals court to stay the case.)
In Nevada, appeals go to the Supreme Court. In 2014, Nevada created an intermediate appeals court. The Supreme Court has the discretion to send cases to the lower appeals court. The decision of the appeals court can then be appealed to the Supreme Court, which has the ability to take the case or to refuse it.
However it plays out, time will be needed to prepare the relevant paperwork, to file the relevant briefs, to conduct an oral argument, and to craft a written decision. Then, after the Nevada appeals process has concluded, the NFL will have the ability to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case (if the NFL loses on appeal in Nevada). Although the chances of getting the Supreme Court to take any case are remote, the losing party has the right to try. Even if the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t take the case, the process builds even more time and delay into the process.
Thus, barring a settlement, Gruden’s case may take a while to resolve. Vic Tafur of TheAthletic.com recently reported that Gruden may not be inclined to settle.
“People close to Gruden think that he might want to have his day in court,” Tafur writes. “He has plenty of money from his broadcasting, Raiders and sponsorship deals and may value putting Goodell on trial more than any dollar figure.”
Even if Gruden were inclined to settle, the league presumably wouldn’t consider it until it knows that the case can’t be forced into the NFL’s secret, rigged kangaroo court. At that point, the NFL should be willing to make a major offer to Gruden in order to avoid detailed discovery efforts regarding the question of who weaponized the Gruden emails with the apparent goal of forcing him out.
As we’ve said many times, the universe of people who had access to those emails was small. Full and complete digital discovery, coupled with aggressive questioning of key witnesses, likely will reveal the tracks to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Some have suggested the case could bring down Commissioner Roger Goodell. While that’s not impossible, it’s also premature. Frankly, by the time Goodell is ever grilled in Gruden’s case, Goodell may already have retired.