While those questions remain unanswered, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that prior to the recent leaks, Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder used some of the same emails in a court filing as part of a legal battle involving ousted team executive Bruce Allen, who was fired in 2019. Allen is the recipient of several of the damning emails cited in Monday’s New York Times report that ultimately compelled Gruden to resign.
Per the L.A. Times, Snyder’s attorneys submitted some of Gruden’s emails in a June U.S. District Court filing in Arizona in an effort to compel Allen to produce discovery as part of Snyder’s defamation lawsuit against an Indian media outlet that falsely linked him to sex trafficking and disgraced late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Snyder sued New Delhi-based Media Entertainment Arts WorldWide (MEAWW) in August 2020 seeking $10 million over the false claims that were made prior to a Washington Post exposé of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct at the Washington Football Team. The Post report preceded the NFL’s investigation of the team that ultimately led to Gruden’s emails being exposed.
Snyder sought to connect Allen to false reports
Snyder has since sought to reveal the sources of any false information that may have led to the MEAWW report. In April, he filed a motion naming Allen as a potential source.
“Petitioner (Snyder) has a good faith belief that Respondent (Allen) has specific knowledge of the creation and distribution of the MEAWW articles, and thus has information relevant to the Indian Action,” the court filing issued in California read.
Allen responded with a declaration that he “had no communications whatsoever with the defendants in the Indian Action, or anyone connected to them, and have no knowledge of the source or sources of the alleged defamation at issue in the Indian Action.”
Email language cited in court filing matched NY Times report on Gruden
That California filing preceded the June filing in Arizona that the L.A. Times reported on Tuesday included the inflammatory Gruden emails using misogynistic and anti-gay language. Snyder’s attorneys cited the emails in an effort to show that Allen had close relationships with media members covering the team. Gruden worked for ESPN at the time. The filing also cited alleged interactions between Allen and ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter.
Per the filing as reported by the L.A. Times, Snyder’s attorneys cited Allen’s correspondence with media as contrary to his sworn statement that he “maintained a low profile with respect to the media” and “never served as an anonymous source for any news or media reports.”
The emails issued in Snyder’s court filing are identical to the ones cited in The New York Times where Gruden referred to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as a “f****t” and a “clueless anti football p****y.” Gruden’s name was redacted in that particular filing, and instead referenced an “ESPN personality,” per the L.A. Times. The report also notes that Gruden’s name and email address weren’t redacted — apparently mistakenly — in another in another exchange.
Filing: Schefter sent ESPN story to Allen for review
Per the filings, Schefter sent an unpublished draft of a 2011 story for Allen’s review with the following correspondence:
“Please let me know if you see anything that should be added, changed, tweaked,” Schefter wrote. “Thanks, Mr. Editor, for that and the trust. Plan to file this to espn about 6 am ….”
That correspondence was in reference to a story on an agreement between the NFL and NFLPA, according to the L.A. Times.
ESPN issued a statement Tuesday night regarding Tuesday’s report:
“Without sharing all the specifics of the reporter’s process for a story from 10 years ago during the NFL lockout, we believe that nothing is more important to Adam and ESPN than providing fans the most accurate, fair and complete story.”
Allen’s attorney and a Washington Football Team spokesman did not respond to the L.A. Times request for comment.
Snyder, meanwhile, is under increased scrutiny as the NFL is facing calls to release all of the reported 650,000 emails that were part of the probe into the Washington Football Team.