Mark Herbert

LAS VEGAS (CN) — The Nevada Supreme Court must determine whether to send former Raiders head coach Jon Gruden's case, in which he accuses the NFL of leaking emails that led to his firing, to arbitration.

On Wednesday, the court heard arguments from attorneys for Gruden, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell, who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Gruden claims that the NFL leaked his private emails — some of which reportedly contained racist, misogynistic and homophobic language — in order to harm his career. The NFL says that disputes involving employees fall under the jurisdiction of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and are subject to arbitration.

The case is focused on the NFL Constitution and dispute resolution clauses. Gruden's arguments revolve around jurisdiction, fairness, and the applicability of arbitration to his claims, while the NFL highlights the commissioner’s role and the arbitration clause’s scope.

Each side had a 15-minute opportunity to present their arguments Wednesday, with the NFL reserving its final two minutes for a rebuttal.

Attorney's for the NFL said Goodell’s opinion is essential for determining whether the conduct described in the case is detrimental to the league. They pointed out that the commissioner can designate someone else to handle arbitration to avoid bias concerns.

Gruden’s lawyer argued that the NFL Constitution should not apply to former members indefinitely and that there has been no factual predicate for the commissioner’s opinion that the conduct is detrimental.

Gruden’s lawsuit stems from the October 2021 exposure of his private emails, in which. He claims the NFL and Goodell orchestrated the email leak, damaging his reputation and ending his coaching career. Gruden is seeking to recoup the remaining balance of his 10-year, $100 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders, signed in 2018. Gruden and Raiders owner Mark Davis have already reached an undisclosed settlement.

The legal proceedings in the case started in Nevada District Court, where Gruden achieved initial success. Judge Nancy Elf presided rejected the NFL’s attempts to send the case to arbitration. The NFL argued it should determine their punishment for the email leak using their “conduct detrimental” clause in their constitution and bylaws. But Judge Elf's rulings prevent this and she twice rejected the NFL’s attempts to fully dismiss the case.

The court also discussed the incorporation of the NFL Constitution and whether Gruden had an opportunity to negotiate its terms. Gruden’s lawyer Adam Hosmer-Henner contends that his client had no choice but to accept the Constitution’s terms to pursue his career in the NFL, even though the document was lengthy and also not provided to the coach. Hosmer-Henner also admitted, however, that Gruden signed off on the NFL Constitution when he accepted the $100 million contract to become the Las Vegas Raiders coach in 2018. He was fired from the position in January 2022.

“In order to get the job that he has trained his entire life for, that is his career, and in order to perform his career, accept the job in the National Football League, he had to accept the Constitution unmodified, no changes whatsoever,” Gruden’s lawyer Adam Hosmer-Henner said on Tuesday.

The Nevada Supreme Court justices did not indicate when they would decide the matter.

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