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E-mail leaks of little concern for NFL


We’re roughly a third of the way through the NFL season and the league is already embroiled in a controversy the likes of which would topple other organizations to their foundations.

In short, a high profile coach was forced to resign over a series of emails he wrote that contained racist, homophobic and misogynistic language,

A mountain of emails remains. Many of them may answer long-standing questions about the conduct of those who run one of the league’s historic franchises.

The emails and their content, however, remain ensconced behind the walls of 410 Park Avenue in New York, the NFL’s address, never to see the light of day, if league officials have their way. Again, for most other American sports organizations, the email scandal which has engulfed the Washington Football Team, while blowing up the career of Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden, would send them to their corporate knees.

But, this is just business as usual in the world of Commissioner Smilin’ Roger Goodell. One more proverbial piece of dog poop to step over on the way to making billions.

Except, this one really does deserve to leave a stench, as it appears the NFL is prepared to go to great lengths to protect one of its own, the unctuous Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington franchise, leaving Gruden as collateral damage. Not that Gruden is a sympathetic figure in this. He richly earned the scorn heaped upon him when it was revealed that he had written emails to Bruce Allen, the former Washington team president, whom he worked with when both were in Tampa. Gruden, who is White, used racist imagery to talk about NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith, who is Black.

Those emails, written 10 years ago when Gruden was a television commentator, got out late in the week nearly two weeks ago.

Gruden immediately issued a milquetoast apology and tried to ride out the gathering storm. He might have made it, too, had it not for a subsequent email leak last week.

That paper trail not only showed that Gruden could be homophobic and misogynistic too, though his most unpardonable sin apparently was that he spoke badly of Goodell, proving him to be impolitic as well.

The emails were part of a batch of 650,000 of them, collected during an investigation of sexual harassment and other conduct in the Washington front office.

The allegations were made by female former employees. The club was fined $10 million at the conclusion of the investigation, while Snyder was forced to relinquish control of the team for a while.

However, Snyder was not forced to sell the club. Indeed, a report on the investigations was never issued publicly.

Most importantly, the emails have not been released to the public, but have been selectively leaked by someone with an axe to grind.

Smith and many of the female employees who were harmed by the conduct, have called for the emails to be made public, but the league has dug in, claiming there’s nothing to see.

It’s an admittedly cynical take. But, sadly, for those who care that our sports figures actually try to do the right thing, it’s an accurate one. More’s the pity.

And that’s how I see it for this week. You can reach via email with your questions and comments at Sports at Large at gmail.com. And follow me on Twitter at Sports at Large.

Until next week, for all of us here, I’m Milton Kent. Thanks for listening and enjoy the games.

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.