Saturday, December 11, 2021

Washington Football Team- Team Scandal Emails (July 2020)

Case Controversy

The National Football League is the most popular American sport in the world and has a very big following. People all over the world watch and cheer on their favorite teams and players. In the past few seasons there have been some events taking place from multiple organizations around football that involve players, coaches, and managers to be fired or released due to findings and violations of team or league rules. The most recent involved the former “Washington Redskins” now called the “Washington Football Team” and the sexual assault allegations surrounding the organization dating back all the way to 2008 that just lead not only to a fine for the organization for breaking league rules but also to the firing of current Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden who had nothing to do with the scandal at all (ESPN).

            In early October 2020 an investigation of over 650,000 emails and documents sent between Former Washington Football Team employees were released after a 10 month wait about potential workplace misconduct revolving around the Washington Football Team which concerns the NFL efforts to have the game of football become more inclusive and diverse (ESPN). The findings of the emails resulted in a $10 Million dollar fine for the Washington Football Team as they claimed the team's “club work environment” was very highly unprofessional and was especially bad towards women. 


Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Football Team

            Right after these emails were investigated by the NFL, they found other emails from at the time ESPN analyst Jon Gruden who now coaches the Las Vegas Raiders. Gruden used “Misogynistic and anti-gay language and racist comments to refer to the NFL players, executive director for the association and Washington Football Teams President Bruce Allen. All Emails were sent between 2011 and 2016 (NY Post).

             First reported in 2020 Washington Football Team cheerleaders were instructed to take behind the scenes content at a swimsuit photoshoot to create a video and other image. While the cheerleaders were changing the photographers were videotaping the bare nipples and other public areas while the cheerleaders were changing in between photos being taken. The videos were sent to the team owner Daniel Snyder, President Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden's Brother Jay who was one of the coaches. At the time of this shoot some of the cheerleaders complained about inappropriate behavior at the photoshoot and that team executives were passing around the videos and the lawsuits were settled in court with no findings. The league then decided to look more into the scandal and found that Jon Gruden, who got the videos through his brother, was sending other types of emails around the league. The WFT cheerleaders along with other employees that were part of the team during the allegations called for the report to be publicly released as not even the cheerleaders who are the ones that are “Victims” of the situation have been able to see the report. Some cheerleaders that are part of the current Las Vegas Raiders team are upset as their head coach is the one sending not only the video around but other racist emails. (NY Post). 

Raiders announcer Musburger says release of Gruden emails was 'hit job' (

            On October 8th the emails that Jon Gruden had sent during his time as an ESPN analyst between 2011 and 2016 were released to the public. Gruden had been hired to be the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders and had nothing to do with the investigation of the Washington Football Team Scandals. Some of the key email findings were that Gruden called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “P*ssy”, in 2014 when Michael Sam, an openly gay player was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams Gruden emailed the GM of the Rams and said the league should not have pressured him into drafting him and that Sam was a “queer”. When the emails were released as part of the WFT sexual allegations scandal, Gruden immediately resigned as Head Coach of the Raiders and a current player who openly announced that he was gay who currently plays for the Raiders needed time off from work as the Raiders locker room had lost creditability from the coach. (CNN)

            On Nov 12th Jon Gruden filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the commissioner because of an “Orchestrated campaign” against him, he said that the league sought to destroy his career and reputation in the league and the league had held the emails for months and only released them in the middle of the Raiders season to cause the maximum damage to Gruden. (Yahoo News)

 After the investigations the WFT was fined $10 million, and Gruden had to resign from his job after his emails were leaked but had nothing to do with the scandal. (WTKR)

Timeline of Notable Washington Football Team events




The stakeholders in the Gruden WFT case would be the Football Team itself, Washington Football team owner Dan Snyder and GM Bruce Allen and Jon Gruden. All three of these people's reputations and current jobs depend on what the real investigations find and if any more articles or emails get released. All the findings and punishments are in the early stages, and each could have different punishments depending on findings. The Football Team could have a different outcome because it could look bad towards the organization that this happened to them, but also it involved only the higher up personnel from the team so people might look at it and not care because no players or people currently with the team are still involved. The two members of the WFT are affected because they both have future jobs in jeopardy, and it is a horrible look that they took part in these cheerleader scandals while working for the team. Gruden is most affected as he wasn’t a part of the investigation at all until, they found out he obtained and shared the video of the cheerleaders, then all the other emails were leaked. He already resigned from his job and is in danger of ruining his whole reputation and his future careers if either more emails are found, or he loses the lawsuit he filed.


An individualist would view the actions in the Washington Football Team email scandal as impermissible. Under Friedman’s individualism, the only goal of business is to profit, so the only obligation that the businessperson has is to maximize profit for the owner or the stockholders within the law of the land. According to Individualism an action is ethical if it can appropriately answer two questions. Is the action maximizing the profits for stockholders? And are there any laws that prohibit the action? According to Friedman, “as long as business obeys the law, it meets its social responsibility by responding to consumer demand in the marketplace” (DesJardins 56).

The first question individualism asks is the action maximizing profits for stockholders? In the case of the Washington Football Team the answer to this question is no. The Washington Football Team was fined $10 million after getting caught for distributing this video without ever telling the cheerleaders the intent behind the video. This $10 million fine would obviously not maximize profits for stockholders. The intent behind these actions were not business related and were solely done for personal use. This obviously would not help the Washington Football Team maximize profit for stockholders. Since this action does not maximize profit for stockholders this action is impermissible according to individualism.

The second question individualism asks is are there any laws that prohibit the action? In the case of the Washington Football Team the answer to this question is yes. Since the Washington Football Team was fined $10 million for their actions, this means that what they were doing was not allowed. The Washington Football Team would not have been fined if what they were doing was allowed or lawful. Also, Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was forced to resign because of his part in the Washington Football Team email scandal. Jon Gruden would not have to resign if what he did was lawful or allowed. Since there are laws that prohibit the action, this action is impermissible according to individualism.


A utilitarian would see the WFT allegations as the most ethical and beneficial for all. Utilitarianism is defined as the choice among all possibilities that maximizes happiness for all individuals able to feel happiness considering shorts and long term consequences. In this case happiness was maximized for some but not all cases but there are many chances that happiness could be maximized in the future, and it follows this. 

Washington Football Team:  The WTF is the only stakeholder that has any sort of happiness maximized towards them. Although the allegations were a part of the organization itself, nothing relies on them. The league has all the reports and former emails and all the employees and cheerleaders involved in the scandal no longer work or are a part of the team, so fans and players and future employees don’t look towards this as a red flag for the organization.  They also were negatively impacted as they had to deal with a $10 Million dollar fine from the league for having an unprofessional workplace.

Dan Snyder:  Dan Snyder right now is negatively impacted by the situation because the emails claimed that he had the video of the cheerleaders and knew it was going around but did nothing to stop it or talk to the other team employees even though he was the team General Manager. He has a chance to have it positively impact him because once the NFL fully releases all the documents, if nothing else is found he can get out of the allegations as he currently has no punishments against himself personally.

Bruce Allen: Bruce Allen also fits into the same category as Dan Snyder as nothing is accused against him directly and currently has the chance to maximize happiness in this situation if there are no additional findings. The only way his actions were negatively impacted by the allegations was because he was the GM of the team at the time and his name was tied into seeing the video at some point.

Jon Gruden: Gruden is the only person that this case completely negatively impacted the situation. He acquired the videos of the cheerleaders without even working for the WFT, he then sent them to other people and on top of that other emails between him and other league personal had been uncovered and most included racist or homophobic things towards people around the league. Gruden could get happiness maximized as much as possible because he filed a lawsuit towards the NFL as he claimed that the emails were only released because the league wants to hurt his reputation and ruin the Raiders current season, as the emails had nothing to do with the original WFT sexual assault allegations.


A theory that is important in this situation is Kantianism is the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher born in Konigsberg, Prussia. Kantianism is good actions have intrinsic value; actions are good if and only if they follow from a moral law that can be universalized. the tradition of continental rationalism and British empiricism by holding that phenomenal knowledge is the joint product of percepts given to us through sensations organized under the forms of intuition of space and time and of concepts or categories of the understanding, but that reason involves itself in fallacies. he philosophy of Kant, who held that the content of knowledge comes a posteriori from sense perception, but that its form is determined by a priori categories of the mind: he also declared that God, freedom, and immortality, although they cannot be proved or disproved, are necessary postulates of a rational morality. The reason I feel like Kantianism is great for this scenario is because John Gruden and Dan Snyder and the former president of the Washington Football Team have put themselves in a terrible situation, but they are not all the way in trouble. John Gruden is suing the NFL over these emails and if he wins there is a chance, he can clear his name and get a coaching job soon. Both Dan Snyder and the former president both said they have nothing to do with and have only seen the pictures and videos of the cheerleader. They both have also apologized to the organization and to the people. I don’t know if they are lying or not but if they clear themselves up, they all can follow the Kantianism theory. What I mean by that is if they all become off the case and can get their lives back on track and not be associated with this, they can have good morals and make good decisions and actions. Can’t forget about the cheerleaders; they were objectified and disrespected if the statements are true. They can follow Kantianism theory by doing good actions. They can show good actions by continuing to protest and keep what is going on in the eyes of the world, so people don’t forget what these people have done.  No person would want to go back to the old them and be put in those situations again. So, what they are in now should be an eye opener for them and become a better version of themselves and, to show people they aren’t this villain. I believe Kantianism is the best in this situation and can be a life changer for some people who have made bad decisions prior to changing their life around.      

Virtue Theory

Virtue theory is widely inspired by Socrates and Aristotle. The ethics of virtue theory involve one’s character. It is about making decisions using your rationality to better get along with the rest of society. Virtues are all the character traits that enable this type of behavior. There are four main virtues in virtue theory: honesty, temperance, justice/fairness, and courage.


Honesty is an important part of virtue theory because it involves the truth so that you are not manipulating a person for your own benefit. In this case, Dan Snyder did display honesty based on the facts of what is known. He took responsibility and apologized for the behaviors that took place in his organization’s workplace. It is easy to speculate that the NFL is not displaying honesty due to their unwillingness to release a written report from their investigation into the Washington Football Team. Jon Gruden also displayed honesty because he resigned from his position and admitted to sending the emails as well as apologizing.


Temperance is a person’s ability to restrain themselves. This is important in modern society as a common example would be drinking. Having temperance for a drinker is knowing when not to drink too much and restrain from drinking too much. So, for someone like Gruden, clearly lacks temperance in this case. He sent many explicit and inappropriate emails that he could have restrained himself from saying. He did not have to use some of the words that he used and shows a lack of restraint. Gruden also contributes to a societal issue by lacking temperance in this case. The NFL seems to display temperance in a different way. They have not given in to the pressure to release a written report and it shows they have an ability to restrain themselves from releasing something that may affect them negatively.


Courage is an important virtue because having courage means that a person will stand up for what they believe is right. Having courage gives a person the ability to be honest and have temperance, so courage is a very important virtue. Gruden displayed courage in this instance as he admitted his guilt and stepped down from his job. Although what he said in his emails are very insensitive, having courage could be the next step towards bettering himself as a person. The NFL is not displaying any courage in the case study. The NFL is not courageous enough to release their written report of the WFT’s findings and congress is currently making efforts to see the findings. So, the NFL waited this long to release their report and will only release it once being pressed by congress. Dan Snyder also did not display courage in this case because there were reports of possible sexual harassment claims in his workplace before the investigations and allegations, but he never made sizeable efforts to stop the sexual abuse of women in his organization. Had he acted with courage, he would have come out years ago and acknowledged the issue within his organization and made the necessary changes to the workplace.


The final virtue of virtue theory is justice/fairness. Justice and fairness mean treating everyone the same way and giving everyone an equal chance. Dan Snyder clearly did not display this virtue because he allowed women to be “bullied” in his workplace. Women were made to feel uncomfortable within the workplace environment and that is very unfair to them. Dan Snyder has a responsibility to make choices that will give all his employee’s fairness within the workplace. He failed to do so and for many years, women were sexually harassed in his organization. Jon Gruden did not display justice or fairness due to his comments of discrimination towards black people and the gay community. For him to hold a position of influence on many people and make comments like that shows that his decisions were not made out of fairness or justice. The NFL is also acting unfairly because they are not allowing the women who were harmed in this case to get closure because they refuse to release a written report

Action Plan

This is a picture of Fedex Field home of the

Washington Football Team since 1997

The current issue is that the Washington Football Team was investigated by the NFL and the NFL will not release the findings of their investigation. They also have refused to publicly release emails sent by WFT employees. The first part of the plan is to make sure the emails are released publicly to determine the outcomes for the individuals involved (Dan Snyder, WFT employees). We also are going to encourage congress to force the NFL to hand over the findings of the investigation to congress to openly see the findings and show the truth. We will also make sure that the stadium is equipped with security that ensures the safety of all employees as well as anonymous reporting of harassment and hate speech. Our mission statement is “Our goal is to create a safe working environment that welcomes and accepts people regardless of race, gender, religion, etc.” We pride ourselves on inclusiveness, worker safety, and professionalism. Our new policies involve more extensive worker training videos regarding harassment as well as safe spaces to report hate speech or unethical practices. The safe spaces are completely anonymous and safe. We also pride ourselves in hiring a diverse team of hard-working employees. Diversity has proven to improve workplace productivity and critical thinking. We feel that a diverse team allows us to make decisions based on many different views and standpoints. These options allow the team to make more thoughtful decisions that will positively impact employees, profit, and productivity in the workplace. Our mission statement ensures that the WFT makes ethical decisions and treats employees with the due respect they deserve. By doing so, all profits generated will be done safely, ethically, and legally.


Rhylan Hopkins, Jack Rothbart, Griffin Anthony, and Jake Murphy


Desjardins, J. (2020). An Introduction to Business Ethics. McGraw Hill.

Henderson, T. (2021, November 12). Former Raiders' coach Jon Gruden sues NFL, Goodell citing 'malicious campaign'. WTKR. Retrieved 2021, from

Lemoncelli, J. (2021, October 13). Washington cheerleaders furious over topless photo leak in Jon Gruden scandal. New York Post. Retrieved 2021, from

Newton, D. (2021, October 14). Reports: Emails from Washington Football Team investigation show NFL's Jeff Pash, ex-WFT prez Bruce Allen had close relationship. ESPN. Retrieved 2021, from

Sanchez, R. (2021, October 13). How an investigation of the Washington Football Team led to the resignation of the Las Vegas Raiders' head coach. CNN. Retrieved 2021, from

Young, D. (2021, November 12). Yahoo News. Retrieved 2021, from

Henderson, T. (2021, November 12). Former Raiders' coach Jon Gruden sues NFL, Goodell citing 'malicious campaign'. WTKR. Retrieved 2021, from

Lemoncelli, J. (2021, October 13). Washington cheerleaders furious over topless photo leak in Jon Gruden scandal. New York Post. Retrieved 2021, from

Newton, D. (2021, October 14). Reports: Emails from Washington Football Team investigation show NFL's Jeff Pash, ex-WFT prez Bruce Allen had close relationship. ESPN. Retrieved 2021, from

Sanchez, R. (2021, October 13). How an investigation of the Washington Football Team led to the resignation of the Las Vegas Raiders' head coach. CNN. Retrieved 2021, from

Young, D. (2021, November 12). Yahoo News. Retrieved 2021, from


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