Column: Imagine what else lurks in those 650,000 emails

By PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports Columnist

Just imagine what else lurks in those 650,000 emails.

Surely the racism and misogyny and homophobia weren’t a Jon Gruden exclusive.

But the NFL, instead of thoroughly addressing what is likely just the tip of a very toxic iceberg, hopes we’ll all just meekly accept Grudengate as the end of it.

Move along, everyone.

Nothing more to see here.

We’re expected to go along with the ludicrous notion that a yearlong probe into the Washington Football Team wasn’t worthy of issuing an actual report or deserves any further examination, even though we’ve now learned another team’s disgraced coach memorialized in emails all the horrible things that were swirling around in his head. (Not to mention, we got a couple of juicy tidbits about an ESPN reporter and the NFL’s top lawyer getting a little too cozy with the team’s ex-president.)

No doubt, it cuts a much wider, more embarrassing path than that, but the NFL seems intent on protecting one of its own — reviled WFT owner Dan Snyder — and keeping its “investigation” firmly sealed before anyone it really cares about is implicated.

Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, for one, knows the Gruden emails exposed a greater problem than one rogue coach — and stretches far beyond the NFL, for that matter.

“There are people out there like that, that speak that way, that have that mindset, that have not grown,” Wagner said. “It’s not something that shocks me anymore because you get it in so many different fields. It’s not just football.”

The NFL can’t be expected to solve all of society’s ills, of course, but it can do a much better job of ensuring its own house is in order.

Come to think about it, if the league actually cared about anything more than making billions of dollars and protecting its image, it would have ordered a far-reaching investigation to determine how prevalent this abhorrent behavior is within all 32 franchises.

Instead, it’s gone into cover-up mode, banking on its enormous popularity to sweep this issue away like so many others that came before, from concussions to Colin Kaepernick.

It never even issued a public report into its investigation of the Washington Football Team, and apparently has no plans to do so.

In the end, Gruden took the fall — a slap in the face to the 40 former Washington employees who bravely came forward with allegations of sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace extending all the way to the owner’s box.

They are rightfully incensed that the NFL is unwilling to reveal a more complete picture of what they went through, though the leaked emails that cost Gruden his job as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders certainly give a grim sampling.

“In response to a yearlong investigation in which more than 100 witnesses were interviewed, and which we believe substantiated our clients’ allegations of pervasive harassment, misogyny and abuse at the Washington Football Team, the NFL has chosen to protect owner Dan Snyder,” the former Washington employees’ attorneys, Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, said in a statement.

“This is truly outrageous.”

Back in July, the NFL wrapped up its investigation by fining Washington $10 million, which for the owner of a franchise worth an estimated $4.2 billion is roughly equivalent to the loose change he finds in his sofa on any given day.

Snyder wasn’t even suspended, agreeing instead to turn over the supposed day-to-day operation of the franchise to his wife. Oh, and he also was allowed to buy out his minority partners, coming out on the other side of the scandal stronger than ever.

The NFL clearly didn’t want this going any farther than Snyder’s slap on the wrist.

After all, this is a league that already has some very troubling racial issues — from its blackballing of Kaepernick over his social justice protests to the alarming lack of Black head coaches in a league where roughly 70% of players have that skin color.

This season, only three of the 32 head coaches are Black.

That’s truly outrageous, as well.

Paul Newberry is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org or at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and check out his work at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry


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