In October 2021, Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden was forced to resign after multiple leaks showed him using homophobic and misogynistic language. While what Gruden said was clearly inappropriate, what was even more clear was that he was the target of a hit-job. 

Who was behind this leak? There have been multiple theories. Gruden has his eye on commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL, as he filed a lawsuit against the league claiming Goodell created "a malicious and orchestrated campaign" to leak the damning emails. The U.S. House of Representatives' Oversight Committee, on the other hand, released a report indicating Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder was the perpetrator.

If Snyder was the leak, his dirty bomb blew up in his face. He recently finally agreed to sell the Commanders after a very tumultuous few years -- something many believed he would never do. According to a lengthy piece published by ESPN on Wednesday, Snyder may have been able to remain team owner if it were not for the Gruden email leaks. 

"He was free and clear that October -- he just had to wait out his suspension and let everything blow over," a source close to Snyder told ESPN. "A major miscalculation. Without the leaks, he might just have survived."

Not long after the leaks, a congressional committee launched an investigation into the Commanders franchise that resulted in Goodell and Snyder testifying under oath. A source told ESPN that while lawmakers were already interested in issues centered around the Commanders franchise and its owner, the leaks set things in motion for them.

"Their thinking was, if the leaks showed the kind of material Snyder was weaponizing against his enemies, what else might be out there?"

ESPN spent months interviewing executives, lawyers, agents and league team officials who accused three main parties concerning the leaks: NFL executives (including Goodell), NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, who was directly attacked by Gruden in the emails and then Snyder. ESPN presented cases for why it could be any of these parties. 

As for Snyder, you probably recall when he reportedly claimed he had enough "dirt" on Goodell and other team owners that would allow him to "blow up" the league. If this was his doing, he may have taken himself out along with Gruden. Why could Snyder have considered this course of action?

In 2021, Snyder stepped down from his day-to-day duties after a lengthy investigation into the Commanders' workplace. By fall of that same year, Snyder reportedly considered his punishment served, and expected he would be allowed back at league meetings. However, Goodell did not allow this. 

Sources indicated to ESPN that Snyder leaked the emails to transfer blame attributed to him to former team president Bruce Allen -- who was the recipient of some of the Gruden emails. Additionally, assassinating Gruden's character reportedly could have served as a gift to the commissioner, as Gruden was labeled by ESPN "a longtime antagonist."

"The hope, one source said, was that the leaks would 'divert attention from this situation with Snyder and give room for everybody to lay down their swords. ... This was a hatchet job -- a gift wrapped by Snyder for Goodell, to get back into Goodell's good graces on the suspension.'"

If this is true, Snyder's plan was more explosive than intended. It not only brought the allegations against Snyder back into the light, but brought more negative attention to the league as a whole than anyone could have wanted. In response to the Gruden lawsuit, Goodell even claimed that the leak, "was unequivocally against the NFL's best interests."

We still don't know who leaked Gruden's emails, but the leak had massive ramifications. Including the demise of Snyder.