Yahoo Sports’ Senior NFL Writer Charles Robinson and Co-Host of Peacock’s Brother From Another’ Michael Smith discuss how Jon Gruden’s emails could be opening a door to much bigger legal issues for the NFL. Hear the full conversation on the You Pod to Win the Game podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you listen.
CHARLES ROBINSON: If you're the NFL, you're sitting here and you're going, OK, we're embroiled in this lawsuit in St. Louis, the Rams relocation suit, and we're on the ropes. We're in deep [BLEEP]. Like, we're doing everything we can to-- right now, you have five owners that are in some way, shape, or form, have tried to defy a court order to spell out all their financial holdings. In other words, we need to know a very specific net worth for each and every one of you, including all your business holdings.
MICHAEL SMITH: We need to see your books.
CHARLES ROBINSON: Right, what's your money? Right, not just for your team. We want to know your team's value, but we want to your overall value, too. That's because they want to know where they can go with punitive damages, eventually, if they win this case. You have John Mara coming out and through a league lawyer saying, league lawyer's like, well, Mr. Mara doesn't-- I'm paraphrasing here, Mr. Mara actually doesn't even know what his team's worth. Like, he can't even really know. Pretending like, why would he even know what his team's worth?
MICHAEL SMITH: OK, Charles, that's like us saying, I don't even know where my money is, man. My wife's got my money, you know what I mean?
CHARLES ROBINSON: My house? I mean, I don't know my house is worth? I've never tried to sell my house. How could I tell what my house is worth? I mean, it might not be worth-- my house might be worth $50, for all I know. Yeah, right.
MICHAEL SMITH: I don't pay the bills around here.
CHARLES ROBINSON: But the point I made, and this is what I talked about in the monologue, is that you just have this situation where if you're the NFL, and then you have the Oakland Raiders relocation suit, it's behind in the court system in Northern California. But obviously, if the St. Louis suit is successful, I think there's going to be an impact, in terms of some momentum in Northern California.
Future relocations, you have the league just sitting here going, OK, we could potentially have five owners who have to take the stand and answer questions. We have a discovery process that can continue forward, because the trial was not slated to begin until 2022. Like January, I think, at the earliest. And you just saw this Washington investigation, which you had your hands around, and were able to do what? Squash everything regarding Dan Snyder.
MICHAEL SMITH: Like, nobody's talking about it.
CHARLES ROBINSON: Right. You were able to completely keep this under wraps. And then you've seen what can happen when even a little bit of the narrative slips out of the hands of the NFL, or if they're controlling it, maybe they use that and control the narrative through what happens with Jon Gruden or whatever.
The point is, you go into the court system, they lose the ability to control things, they lose the ability to-- they can't stand there and you know, if Robert Kraft's on the stand, or Roger Goodell, or Jerry Jones, and they start getting asked questions, and it's going the wrong way, you can't just step in and go, everybody out of the courtroom! Like, this is over, we're done here!
MICHAEL SMITH: There's no PR representative to save you there.
CHARLES ROBINSON: You have to be scared, right? Like, if you're the league, you're like, this is really scary. You know, we're seeing what can happen if we lose control of this thing we always really want to control.
MICHAEL SMITH: Yeah, no, for sure. The only thing I would say is, that's pretty deep and pretty inside baseball. That's definitely behind the curtain, where you just took us. I wonder, though, and you know, maybe your point is, I'm hearing you loud and clear, maybe your point is, listen, there's the doors to that closet I referenced earlier are about to be forced open, whether they like it or not. Because for us, this is a big deal. Transparency, holding the league accountable, is our role and responsibility as journalists.