ASHBURN, Virginia – One of the House Democrats who sent a letter to the NFL seeking more information about the Washington Football Team’s work culture investigation says he fears Jon Gruden’s emails are just the “tip. of the iceberg. “
Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., Told ESPN that the representatives wanted to get involved because the NFL “has a special place in American life.”
“The way they deal with race and gender issues and the way they treat their employees really influences the way society deals with those same issues,” Krishnamoorthi said. “We are very interested in learning more about exactly why the NFL did what it did and how it did it.”
Gruden resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders this month following reports that emails he wrote over a multi-year period included racist, misogynistic and anti-gay language. The emails were discovered as part of the investigation into Washington’s workplace culture.
“The biggest fear is that what Jon Gruden seems to be involved in is much more common than we thought,” Krishnamoorthi said. “That is what worries a lot of people.”
Krishnamoorthi and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, DN.Y., who is the chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee, asked the NFL to turn over several documents and answer numerous questions about the investigation by Nov. 4.
They haven’t heard from the NFL, Krishnamoorthi said, except to acknowledge receipt of the five-page letter. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email Thursday night that the league had received the letter and shares (Maloney’s) “concern that all workplaces should be free from any form of harassment and discrimination. We hope to speak with her office soon. “
If the NFL chooses not to cooperate, Congress could send a summons. Asked whether he would consider suing the league, Krishnamoorthi said, “If the NFL does not cooperate after we try to work with them to enlist their cooperation, then we have the tools to compel the production of the documents. But our hope is that we will not. get there. I hope we can work with them to get this information. “
In the letter, Maloney and Krishnamoorthi said they want the NFL to show “all documents and communications obtained in connection with the investigation into the WFT, its address, its owners, and any other matter associated with or as a result of the WFT investigation.” . They also want the NFL to detail its role in attorney Beth Wilkinson’s investigation of the franchise and why there was no written report after 150 people had been interviewed.
“I just don’t know of an investigation where someone is not allowed to document what happened or document the findings,” Krishnamoorthi told ESPN, “but that seems to be what happened here. There is a lot of evidence that she analyzed, and others analyzed; of somehow they haven’t arisen at all. “
Tom Davis served as chairman of the House Oversight Committee from 2003 to 2007 and was the ranking minority member on the committee during Congress’ 2008 investigation into baseball’s steroid issue. He said it was able to bring that issue to a hearing because it had bipartisan support in the House and because the target was more than just one player or team.
“Members will want to know why Congress is getting involved and, if so, why it is targeting a team,” Davis said. “This is not unique to the Washington Football Team. It exists in every sport. It exists in every locker room and college campuses.
“To get to the floor of the House, you have to be broader than the Washington Football Team.”
The representatives’ letter also raised concerns about the nondisclosure agreements former employees had signed and sought more information about the role of NFL general counsel Jeff Pash in the investigation.
“The biggest fear is that what Jon Gruden seems to be involved in is much more common than we thought. That’s what a lot of people worry about.”
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.
Pash’s close relationship with former Washington team president Bruce Allen was revealed in some of the leaked emails, which included topics ranging from jokes about diversity initiatives in the league to rescinding an NFL fine. Allen was fired at the end of the 2019 season.
Krishnamoorthi said members of Congress do not think former Washington employees who cooperated with the investigators have received any response.
“The Washington Football Team and the NFL enjoy special privileges under our antitrust laws,” said Krishnamoorthi. “We thought it was important to get to the bottom of what was happening in the NFL, regarding the Washington Football Team in the way they handled their employees. What we’ve seen so far is deeply alarming.”
Krishnamoorthi said the representatives want to investigate this situation to determine whether new or stronger laws are necessary to help employees in a similar environment. He said they also want to make sure the NFL didn’t cover up information through nondisclosure agreements signed by former Washington employees.
The emails from Gruden, sent when he was employed by ESPN as the lead analyst for Monday Night Football, went to Allen’s team account, and thus were discovered as part of the NFL investigation. Some were also included in court documents where Washington owner Dan Snyder tried to show that Allen was a source of leaking negative information about the team.
Krishnamoorthi said no one asked the representatives to send a letter to the NFL. He said they have been watching the situation and that Gruden’s resignation “highlighted the rather alarming nature of the communications going on from high-level officials, and it seems appropriate now to step in and try to get to the bottom of what is happening.” .