The last time NFL owners convened in person, they approved a labor deal that set the stage for multibillion-dollar television agreements and thereby ensured the league’s financial future for more than a decade.
It was a heady time for that exclusive club of sports magnates, and they already are seeing healthy returns on those contracts with increased television ratings and revenue streams that seem almost infinite.
This past week, 641 days after celebrating that watershed agreement, they gathered again in Manhattan for the first time since being separated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Things were not nearly as celebratory this time.
In fact, most owners walked past reporters without saying a word about the state of the league. Controversy continues to swirl in the wake of Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s resignation after racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails that he had written were leaked in connection with an investigation into workplace misconduct by the Washington Football Team. And the pressure figures to be ratcheted up even more in the coming days, with Congress demanding records and more details into the investigation no later than this Thursday.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has refused to relent on releasing more of the 650,000 emails associated with the investigation, saying the league wants to respect the anonymity of some of the women who came forward to testify about workplace harassment within Daniel Snyder’s team.
Meanwhile, attorneys representing 40 women who sat with NFL investigators to detail the harassment they faced while working for the WFT were outraged that the league couldn’t find a way to release more information. Many of those women have no problem being identified, and some already have had their names publicly connected to the investigation.
"Our clients came forward with details of harassment and abuse they suffered with the reasonable expectation that they and the public would be provided with the findings of the 10-month-long investigation," attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz wrote in a letter to Goodell on Wednesday. "You have misrepresented the wishes of our clients, and likely those of the other women and men who came forward, to justify your decision to bury what we know would be a damning report, having sat through dozens of interviews."
Goodell remains unwilling to change his stance and said as much in remarks to reporters on Tuesday.
"When you make a promise to protect anonymity to make sure we get the right information," Goodell said, "you need to stand by that. We were very conscious of making sure they were protected in coming forward."
League-appointed attorney Beth Wilkinson delivered a summary of her findings, but there was no written report, leaving many to believe that the league simply didn’t want to leave itself open to further scrutiny.
Goodell fined the WFT a record sum of $10 million and stripped Snyder of his day-to-day involvement in team operations. His wife, Tanya, is now the team’s lead executive.
Until the Gruden emails to former WFT president Bruce Allen were leaked and Gruden submitted his resignation earlier this month, little attention had been paid to the WFT situation. But with the ouster of a high-profile coach and now with the involvement of Congress, the pressure will not go away. Especially if NFL officials, including Goodell and perhaps even Snyder, are called to testify and are forced to turn over additional documents that may ensnare others.
Goodell is paid handsomely to be the voice of ownership — remember, he serves at their pleasure, and his power over them has limits — and the commissioner has shielded his constituents from this latest crisis. But if it gets to the point that Snyder’s ownership of the WFT becomes untenable, Goodell can’t simply do the bidding of other owners and force him to relinquish control. Only the billionaires who huddled together in New York this week can do so.
Now that Congress is involved, there’s no telling whether that day may arrive.
Big decisions ahead for Raiders
With Gruden out in Las Vegas, what happens now to general manager Mike Mayock, who was brought in by a coach who has since resigned?
"Right now, he’s the GM of the Raiders," team owner Mark Davis said. "There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be in the future."
Davis said he’s not ready to address his coaching situation, other than to stick with interim coach Rich Bisaccia, who had been the Raiders’ special teams coordinator before taking over for Gruden.
"We’re trying to win this season," said Davis, whose team has won two straight games since Gruden’s resignation. "[Bisaccia] has done a good job so far. We’re just trying to control what we can."
Belichick: Beware of Bosa
Dominating the Jets at home in a 54-13 rout is one thing. Dealing with the Chargers on the road is quite another. And when Bill Belichick looks at what he’s up against at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, one of the first things he sees is Joey Bosa.
Belichick believes containing the defensive end is of paramount importance, and if the Patriots are to pull off the upset, neutralizing Bosa is the top priority.
"You have to know where he is on every play," Belichick said. "I think if you go back to the Buffalo game last year, he singlehandedly changed the game. He’s an impact player. It’s not just the negative plays, but the turnovers, the strip sacks, the batted balls, the plays like that that he makes. The tackles from behind where he strips the ball out."
This will be an interesting chess match between Belichick and Chargers first-year head coach Brandon Staley, the former Rams defensive coordinator who already has done fine work in improving the Chargers in a competitive AFC West.
In Staley’s mind, how his team defends against rookie quarterback Mac Jones is a critical factor.
"I see a guy that’s an outstanding decision-maker," Staley said of the former Alabama star, who was drafted as Tom Brady’s long-term replacement. "I think his processing is at a premium for a young quarterback. You can really see that he can see the game. They’re running a lot of premium-type offensive plays that you would think a more experienced quarterback would have. He has that kind of command over their system."
Stafford’s go-to guy . . . and his forgotten guy
Matthew Stafford has been a revelation since being traded from the Lions to the Rams, and the quarterback has been the biggest reason for Los Angeles’ 6-1 start.
It hasn’t been hard to find Stafford’s favorite receiver in Sean McVay’s passer-friendly offense. It’s Cooper Kupp, who has been on a tear this season. Kupp leads the NFL in receiving yards (809) and touchdowns (nine), and he is the first player in the Super Bowl era with at least 800 yards and nine TD catches through the first seven games of a season. Kupp can join Packers Hall of Fame receiver Don Hutson (1942) as the only players with at least two touchdown catches in five of the team’s first eight games of the season.
Meanwhile, DeSean Jackson has been mostly an afterthought in the offense, and McVay has confirmed that the team will look to trade him before Tuesday’s deadline. The former Eagles star, signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract this season but has only eight catches for 221 yards and a touchdown.
A sliver of hope for the Jets?
It has been a tough go for the Jets, and with Zach Wilson out with a knee injury, their 1-5 record might continue to get worse. But Bengals coach Zac Taylor offered at least a ray of hope moving forward, even if the Jets don’t produce an immediate turnaround in Robert Saleh’s first season on the job.
"Robert Saleh will make his guys respond in the right way," said Taylor, whose 5-2 Bengals will face the Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. "I know this staff can take advantage of their experience in San Francisco. In their first year, they had a lot of injuries very similar to what they are facing now. We played against them at the end of that year, and they started winning a ton of games. They had a six-game run at the end there."
The 49ers started off 0-9 that year — Kyle Shanahan’s first as head coach and Saleh’s first as the team’s defensive coordinator. But they won six of their last seven games, including a 34-13 rout of the Rams in the regular-season finale. Taylor was the Rams’ assistant wide receivers coach that season.
"Saleh has been a part of it before and taken it out of his boys," Taylor said. "I see a team that is on the verge of that, and we don’t want it to start with us."
Around the league
It’s Derrick Henry vs. Jonathan Taylor in Sunday’s important AFC South matchup between the Titans and Colts in Indianapolis. Henry leads the NFL with 869 rushing yards and Taylor is next with 579. Henry also leads the NFL with 10 rushing touchdowns. If he rushes for at least 131 yards against the Colts, he’ll become the third player in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 10 rushing scores in the first eight games of the season. The others: Hall of Famers Jim Brown (1958 with Cleveland) and Terrell Davis (1998 with Denver) . . . At age 44 — 44! — Tom Brady leads the NFL with 2,275 passing yards and 21 touchdown passes. He’s the only player with at least four touchdown passes in four games (no one else has thrown that many in more than two games).
NFL Rushing leaders
NFL Rushing leaders
Yds. Name, Team TD
Yds. Name, Team TD
869 Derrick Henry, Titans 10
579 Jonathan Taylor, Colts 5
539 Joe Mixon, K.C. 4
523 Nick Chubb, Browns 4
521 Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys 5
By Bob Glauber i aria-hidden="true"">> @BobGlauber
Bob Glauber has covered the NFL since 1985 and has been Newsday's NFL columnist since 1992. Twice selected as the New York State Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association, he is president of the Pro Football Writers of America and author of "Guts and Genius."
Source : https://www.newsday.com/sports/columnists/bob-glauber/roger-goodell-wft-investigation-jon-gruden-1.504055622147