NFL leaks reveal Shakespearean intrigue

Stuart Grant
Las Vegas Raiders helmetDaniel Alvasd on Unsplash

The e-mail leaks of former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and Redskins executive Bruce Allen beg many questions beyond the bad judgement and juvenile intolerance revealed in their content. As the exchange was with a sitting NFL team executive while Gruden was a network TV announcer, the motivation behind the leaks is revealing.

Gruden has retained a lawyer to address the leaks. He has also reached a settlement with the Las Vegas Raiders on the termination of his multi-million dollar head coaching contract. Former players have come to Gruden’s defense in attesting to his professional conduct with African-American athletes and executives.

The league investigation into the Washington Football team has been kept mysteriously quiet. We know from local media reports that cheerleaders were photographed without consent and at times solicited or harassed. Gruden’s e-mails express antagonism toward league diversity initiatives originating with commissioner Roger Goodell. Does their release point to revenge?

Former Washington General Manager Bruce Allen may also be getting hung out to dry by Dan Snyder in the revealing of the messages. Will Allen fall on his sword for Snyder in order to remain in the exclusive NFL executive club or will he go public with revelations of his own? Did Allen preside over a toxic workplace or was he carrying out the will of his owner?

Female ex-staffers of the Washington Football Team report an atmosphere thick with condescension, bullying, vulgarity and harassment. We also know that Carolina Panthers ex-owner Jerry Richardson was publicly shamed and forced to divest due to similar transgressions. Why has Dan Snyder been spared public embarrassment or forced divestiture?

His tenure as owner of the team has been a long string of bad football and PR. First he threatened to sue the league for any forced name change from the Redskins. Aside from the workplace allegations, the team was exposed for lying to the public to conflate the length of their season ticket wait list. That’s hard to do when fans can see empty seats on TV.

Now Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is revealed to be unvaccinated. That in itself is not remarkable. We know that QB Cam Newton’s vaccination status may have played a role in his release from the New England Patriots. Many NBA stars have publicly revealed their unvaccinated status.

The fact that Rodgers’ vaccination status is public knowledge against his will could not have happened without the involvement of the Packers organization. His wars with the Packers front office have been a matter of public consumption since the drafting of QB Jordan Love.

It will be telling in the days ahead to see if Rodgers’ privacy rights have been compromised and whether the team has exposed itself to a grievance through the player’s union.

If Rodgers is suspended and misses games for misleading the media, the Packers seeding in the NFC playoff race will hang in the balance. How ironic would it be that the Packers playoff seed rest on the shoulders of Jordan Love, the player whose selection Rodgers cited for his war with the team brass?

At the end of the day, the owners will be washing it down with even greater riches. The NFL isn’t just sports, it’s a great soap opera too.

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