Football Team

Reports: Allen's emails show close relationship with top NFL lawyer

Football Team
Bruce Allen

Former Washington Football Team president Bruce Allen had a close relationship with NFL general counsel Jeff Pash as emails obtained from the investigation into Washington's workplace culture continue to reveal Allen's correspondence with significant figures across the league. 

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported Thursday night on Allen and Pash's email history as part of a larger tranche of over 650,000 emails related to the league's investigation into Washington, the outlets wrote.

Discoveries from those emails resulted in Jon Gruden's resignation as head coach of the Raiders on Monday after messages he sent to Allen between 2011-18 were discovered to contain racist, misogynistic and homophobic language. 

Allen served as a top executive in Washington's front office from 2010 up until he was fired in 2019. 

In response to some of Pash and Allen's emails becoming public, NFL executive vice president of communications Jeff Miller denied there was any wrongdoing in the emails by either individual. 

"Communication between league office employees and club executives occurs on a daily basis," Miller said in a statement to both the New York Times and Wall Street 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."

Pash and Allen exchanged emails dating back to 2009 including discussions about NFL issues and ongoing investigations into other organizations, politics and topics pertinent to the Washington Football Team, including its controversial then-nickname and its cheerleading squad, according to the Journal. 

 

One email from 2016 saw Allen complaining to Pash about the NFL's decision to hire Jocelyn Moore, a black woman, as the league's top lobbyist. The move prompted conversations about the NFL's "Rooney Rule," requiring NFL teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and general manager positions. 

“Curious — is there a rule against hiring Libertarians, Independents or even a Republican? We have the Rooney Rule …. So I’m going to propose a Lincoln Rule at the next meeting.” Allen said in one email, per the Wall Street Journal

Pash replied, "No, but it can sometimes look that way!"

In another correspondence from 2013, Pash reassured Allen his team would not be fined $15,000 for manipulating its injury report ahead of a game despite Allen's appeal of the fine being originally denied by the NFL's league office. Washington ultimately did not pay the fine, according to the New York Times' story. 

Pash's frequent conversations with Allen over email brought his involvement into the larger league-run investigation into Washington's workplace culture. However, NFL officials reiterated to the Wall Street Journal that the investigation was run by an outside lawyer, Beth Wilkinson, and the email investigation was tasked to deputy general counsel Janet Nova and Lisa Friel, who reported directly to commissioner Roger Goodell on the matter. 

Pash was not removed from the investigation process entirely. His advice and counsel were still sought by the league, per WSJ's story

Wilkinson and her team concluded their investigation into Washington's workplace culture in the summer of 2021 after the Washington Post reported 15 women experienced sexual or verbal abuse while working for the team. The NFL did not report specifics, saying it only received oral reports of Wilkinson's findings instead of written ones. 

The investigation resulted in a $10 million fine for team owner Dan Snyder and his wife Tanya assuming all day-to-day responsibilities as the franchise's new co-CEO. The NFL then launched a separate investigation of the 650,000 emails after the league found some of the emails troubling, but outside the scope of their original probe of Washington's workplace culture, per the Journal.