Gruden V. NFL – An Update

A quick reset here…  Jon Gruden was fired by the Raiders after some socially unacceptable emails he authored about a decade ago became public.  Those emails were somehow compiled as part of the investigation into the “toxic work environment” in the Front Office of the Washington Football Team – – under its previous moniker.  Gruden filed suit against the NFL claiming that the release of those emails was “tortious interference” with his coaching contract with the Raiders and that release is what got him fired.

To the surprise of exactly no one with an IQ higher than Bok choy, the NFL filed a motion to dismiss that lawsuit citing two fundamental reasons:

  1. The NFL did not leak the emails
  2. As the author of the emails, it was Gruden who is to blame for their content, and it was the content that got him fired.

On the assumption for the moment that Point #1 above is true – and I have no reason to doubt that it is true – it would seem that Gruden’s lawsuit is improperly targeted.  If someone wanted to sue me for releasing a herd of elephants onto the National Mall in Washington DC, there would have to be some evidence of elephants on the Mall and evidence that I had something to do with their presence there.  For the record, I have never been involved with the release of a herd of elephants anywhere on the planet to include the National Mall in Washington DC.

However, someone, somewhere and for reasons not yet fully understood did interfere with Gruden’s contract of employment by making those emails widely known.  If an individual – or individuals – could be tied to the release of those emails, then it would seem that Gruden would have a basis for action.  And again, if Point #1 above is true, then someone likely had or still has access to at least part of the reported 650,000 emails that were collected in the league sponsored investigation of the Washington Football Team Front Office.

It will not surprise me to learn that this specific lawsuit is tossed by the judge.  Nevertheless, I do not think this drama has run its course.  Unlike my “elephant metaphor” above where no one recalls any reporting of an elephant stampede on the Mall, there is clear evidence that Jon Gruden’s emails were leaked to the press.  How and why did that happen?  Recall the TV series, X-Files:

“Mulder, the truth is out there.”

Moving on … The NFL overtime rules have gathered criticism again after the Chiefs won the OT coin toss, took the ball, scored a TD and won last weekend’s game against the Bills without allowing Josh Allen and company to touch the ball.  People have come up with suggested changes to the rule, but all of the suggestions have flaws unto themselves.

One suggestion was to have the home team pick a spot on the field and then for the home team to choose whether or not to play offense or defense from that spot.  That is an interesting gimmick that will send the stat nerds into an orgasmic frenzy calculating new models for how to make those choices; but in the end that is just a new way to do the opening kickoff for the overtime period.  There is a minor flaw in most of the rule proposals that demand both teams touch the ball:

  • The team getting the second possession – assuming the first team scored a TD and now has to defend its goal line only – will play strategically differently on that possession than it has for the entirety of the season up to that point.
  • Punting is not an option; the team on offense will go for it on 4th down anywhere on the field.
  • Defenses will play only to keep the ball out of the end zone and not care a fig about anything else.
  • The game will ultimately be decided in this situation by a game that is not the same game that got the two teams into this situation.

I have a two-pronged proposal.  One of the key elements of my proposal is to maintain the strategy and tactics of the game that were employed in the first three quarters of the game all the way through to the endpoint:

  1. For all regular season games, if the score is tied at the end of 60 minutes of play, the game will go into the books as a tie.
  2. For all playoff games, if the score is tied at the end of 60 minutes, the teams will take a 5-minute break; then there will be a coin toss; then the teams will play a 15-minute period at the end of which a winner will be decided by the score.  If the score is still tied at that point, then there will be another 15-minute period and so on until at the end of a period there is a difference in the score of the two teams.

Ties in the regular season are not poison; if they were, then the current rule for regular season overtime games would not be tolerable because it allows for the possibility of a tie game.  So, just accept those results as possible game outcomes and proceed from there.

Ties in the playoffs cannot be tolerated because only one of the two teams in the field can advance while the other has to go home.  To have arrived in a playoff game that is tied after 60 minutes of play, each team had to play at least 17 regular season games and qualify for the playoffs by comparing their record to other teams in their conference.  It took the NFL 272 games to create the playoff field and those 272 games were played under a specific set of rules that guided strategy and tactics.  So, why abandon them now?

Not to worry folks; none of this will be adopted.  It is too simple and straightforward.  Consider me a voice crying in the wilderness…

Finally, if there was an “aggrieved party” in the way the overtime period unfolded between the Chiefs and the Bills, it would be Josh Allen.  So, what did he have to say about the existing NFL overtime rule:

“The rules are what they are, and I can’t complain about that because if it was the other way around, we’d be celebrating, too. So, it is what it is at this point. We didn’t make enough plays tonight.”

The young man has an abundance of class…

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “Gruden V. NFL – An Update”

  1. Another simple solution would be to just keep playing. At the end of 60 minutes a break is taken just as between periods. Then, after switching ends, the game continues just as it does at the beginning of each previous period. Why should the teem in possession of the ball have to alter their game strategy and field position just because the 60 minute allotted time has expired?
    An extra time period (or periods) need not be 15 minutes, but could be whatever length is deemed sufficient and appropriate. Teams would switch ends at the beginning of each overtime period.

    1. JHouck:

      Yes, you could just continue without any pomp and circumstance like a break and a coin toss and all that stuff if you prefer…

  2. As a defender of the concept of “letting them play the game to determine the winner” always, my problem with these potentially un-ending 15 minute periods is that they could theoretically lead to a place where there is exhaustion and injuries that result from said exhaustion. This leads to a team that is at a noted disadvantage in the next round of the playoffs. My version of an overtime forces the issue a little more, and allows for some strategy while getting it done in a reasonable amount of time.

    Each team gets 3 drives from the 20 yard line. Home team picks which end zone everyone drives at, visiting team determines who goes first. They alternate, 4 downs each, no first downs. You can kick field goals, you can go for 2 or 1 points after a TD. Amass as many points as you can in those 3 drives, whoever has more is obviously the winner. If still tied, one more drive each until a winner emerges.

    I get that it’s slightly different from the “real game,” of course, but it does allow parity, and it gets points on the board in a reasonable amount of time so people don’t get overly tired or hurt. All things being equal, every player has to make about 9-12 more plays in the game, and a winner is determined. It’s fair (no coin toss, equal opportunity), it’s based on “playing football” (minus the kickoff/punt field position thing) and keeps the the winning team from going into the next round completely destroyed from having to play 30-45 extra minutes of football.

    1. Matt:

      Adding the “no first downs” provision is a plus – – but would need to be modified for the following circumstance:

      Team has run three plays and has the ball at the 10 yardline and chooses to go for a TD. The defensive strategy at that point is to tackle every eligible receiver if defensive holding/pass interference is not a first down.

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