NFL general counsel Jeff Pash and former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen had a close relationship, according to emails collected during the NFL’s workplace misconduct investigation of the Washington franchise, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday night.
The correspondence is among 650,000 emails collected in the NFL’s investigation.
That trove of emails helped lead to Jon Gruden’s resignation as Las Vegas Raiders coach earlier this week after reports from the Times and Journal showed he used misogynistic and anti-gay language and also used a racist comment to refer to NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith. Gruden was employed by ESPN at the time as the lead analyst for Monday Night Football when he sent the emails over a seven-year period.
Earlier this week, the NFLPA said it planned to request that the NFL release the remainder of the 650,000 emails reviewed as part of the investigation.
The emails between Pash and Allen show Pash reassuring Allen on controversies involving the Washington franchise and discussing league issues and other topics, including politics.
Pash, in one email exchange in 2013, told Allen that his franchise would not have to pay a $15,000 fine for manipulating their injury report, according to the New York Times. Allen’s appeal was initially denied only to be overruled by Pash, who wrote to Allen that the franchise did not have to pay the fine “or any other amount with respect to this matter and you should consider the fine to be rescinded in its entirety.”
In another exchange, according to the Times, Allen contacted Pash after the Washington franchise was entangled in sexual harassment allegations involving its cheerleaders. Pash responded to Allen that, “I know that you are on it and would not condone something untoward.”
Emails between Gruden and Allen and other men, however, included photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders.
In another exchange from 2016, according to the reports, Allen complained to Pash when Jocelyn Moore, who is Black, was hired as the NFL’s top lobbyist after she had worked for several Democratic senators.
“Curious — is there a rule against hiring Libertarians, Independents or even a Republican?” Allen wrote in the email, to which Pash replied: No, but it can sometimes look that way!
Allen referred to the NFL’s rule that requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and general manager candidates in his response: “We have the Rooney rule …. So I’m going to propose a Lincoln Rule at the next meeting.”
The NFL, via NFL executive vice president of communications Jeff Miller, on Thursday denied there was any wrongdoing in the emails between Pash and Allen, who was fired as team president by the Washington franchise in 2019.
“Communication between league office employees and club executives occurs on a daily basis,” Miller said in a statement issued to both the Times and Journal. “Jeff Pash is a respected and high-character NFL executive. Any effort to portray these emails as inappropriate is either misleading or patently false.”
The NFL completed its investigation into Washington’s workplace culture in July, fining the franchise $10 million. In addition, Tanya Snyder, who was named the team’s co-CEO in June, took over the day-to-day duties of the franchise from her husband, Dan. All senior executives, including the Snyders, were ordered to take part in workplace conduct training.
That investigation, which began in 2020, was conducted by attorney Beth Wilkinson. Pash’s counsel was sought in the investigation, league officials told the Journal.