Sportscaster Brent Musburger has a theory about the email controversy that led to the resignation of former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden: It was a “hit job.”
“As I told Coach, whoever took you out, Jon, that was a paid assassin,” Musburger recently told the Las Vegas Sports Network.
Gruden resigned as the Raiders head coach mid-season in October after emails he sent containing racist, misogynistic and homophobic language came to light. The emails were uncovered as part of the league’s investigation into the Washington Football Team’s alleged toxic workplace culture, a probe that resulted in a $10 million fine for the team, but no written report detailing the transgressions that investigators uncovered.
Gruden filed a lawsuit against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell over the leaked emails last month, alleging the league used a “malicious and orchestrated campaign” to destroy his reputation and career. He questioned how emails implicating him were the only ones released out of 650,000 emails obtained during the investigation into WFT.
Musburger, who currently does radio play-by-play for the Raiders, took it a step further and said the campaign against Gruden was a “professional hit job.” In fact, the 82-year-old said “that was one of the best hit jobs that I’ve ever been around.”
THE LAWSUIT: Ex-Raiders coach Jon Gruden sues NFL, Roger Goodell
“They didn’t go to their media goombahs,” Musburger said of the alleged culprits. “They didn’t leak this to Adam Schefter or one of those guys that breaks stories. They first went to the Wall Street Journal. And when Gruden was still coaching after that, then they dumped the rest of it on the New York Times. That was a professional hit job.”
Musburger, however, said he’s not “completely sure” if the leak came from the league.
“There was a second lawsuit involved, OK?” Musburger said. “Between the owner, (Daniel) Snyder of Washington, and a former General Manager. And that means that a lot of outside people had access to those emails that they were going through. So I think the hardest part for Gruden’s lawyers to prove is that somebody from the National Football League actually leaked that. Because if it is somebody from the NFL, shame on them. Because Mark Davis should have been told in the summer, when he had something to do about it.”
Last month, Gruden’s lawyer Adam Hosmer-Henner alleged the NFL and Goodell “selectively leaked Gruden’s private correspondence to The Wall Street Journal and New York Times in order to harm Gruden’s reputation and force him out of his job.”
On Oct. 8, the Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden used a racist trope when describing NFL Players’ Association executive director DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email.
Gruden retired on Oct. 11 a little more than an hour after the New York Times separately revealed emails sent between 2011 and 2018, where Gruden used a homophobic slur to describe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, denigrated one team’s decision to draft a gay player, mocked transgender woman Caitlyn Jenner, deprecated female referees and suggested that a player who kneeled during the national anthem should be fired, among other things.
The NFL has denied Gruden’s accusations. Spokesman Brian McCarthy told USA TODAY Sports in November: “The allegations are entirely meritless, and the NFL will vigorously defend against these claims.”
Contributing: Mike Jones