November 28, 2022

The NFL has pinned its refusal to produce any specific information about the Washington Football Team investigation on the notion that an unknown number of current or former employees have requested not just anonymity as to their involvement but full, sweeping secrecy as to the entirety of the probe.

Beyond the fact that this approach makes no sense, given the ability to easily change or redact names (more on that later today), the NFL has admitted that the 650,000 emails from which the Jon Gruden emails were harvested fall outside the scope of the investigation. Thus, the supposed concern for those who wanted anonymity and instead got full secrecy doesn’t apply to the 650,000 emails, since the emails aren’t part of the investigation.

We asked the NFL whether this would allow those emails to be released. Here’s what a league spokesman said Wednesday, via email: “Some of emails in the collection you are asking about are customary business emails, some of which involve confidential club and League business matters and are therefore not appropriate to release. Others concern personal information that is of no relevance to the league and its interests.”

There’s also a chance that some of these emails contain language that compels the same kind of consequences that Gruden received, or the same type of scrutiny that NFL general counsel Jeff Pash experienced based on his chummy messages with former WFT president Bruce Allen.

Surely, someone within the league structure has culled from the 650,000 emails a subset of potentially problematic emails. Let’s see all of them. If there is confidential or personal information in there, redact it. But let’s see what’s there.

Of course, even if the league were to do that, there’s no way to ensure that we’d be getting everything. That’s why all of the emails need to be made available for independent, thorough review.

The harder the league fights to conceal the information, the stronger the sense the league is hiding something big. If, alternatively, the league simply dumped the documents and moved on, most would shrug and do the same. Digging in makes more and more people think there’s good reason for the league to do it, and thus even better reason to keep pushing for full transparency.