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NFL

Jeff Pash’s Putrid Emails Were Just Him Doing His Job

NFL executive Vice President Jeff Pash address the media at the Roosevelt Hotel on March 21, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The New York Times cracked open a few more emails from Danny Snyder’s Treasure Trove Of Glorp on Thursday night, in a story that sort-of-broke the not-quite-news that league counsel Jeff Pash was a more expensively educated version of Jon Gruden. Pash also went out of his way to run interference for his good pal and fellow executive creep Bruce Allen and the Washington Football Team power elite for which he worked.

For reasons that escape normal folks but make perfect sense to the National Football League, WFT owner Daniel Snyder must be saved from the hideous state of his soul. That he found a use for the otherwise replacement-level human oil slick Bruce Allen makes more sense if you accept the following things as irrefutable fact:

  1. The National Football League is not, has not ever been, and will never display honor and ethics anywhere it can get away with doing otherwise. The company is about the company and nothing more.
  2. The National Football League serves only 32 people. Everyone else is just a mark and must always be treated as such.
  3. The folks controlling the email flow for the Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and for all we know My Weekly Reader aren’t remotely done telling us what we already have surmised, starting with the fact that Snyder has revolting ideas and powerful friends.
  4. Pash is just a cheap fixer. Well, that’s not entirely true. He’s a very expensive fixer, but, once you get past his billables, he’s just a cheap fixer. And what he’s about to do, if he hasn’t already, is fix it so that Snyder is never harmed by the scandal—really, by the series of concurrent and concentric scandals that his franchise has become—that he has created and nurtured.

That this is all so painfully obvious does not mean it doesn’t warrant constant repetition. Pash works for The 32. Never mind the crap about The Shield; that’s just a shell company, like Genco Olive Oil or the Bada Bing. And each of those 32 stand for one thing and one thing only, which is protecting The Other 31. The league, the games, and everything associated with them are just where the money comes from.

Fortunately for them, nobody seems to much care as long as the package arrives on time, and so Pash’s role as a skeevy influence peddler shocks only the preposterously gullible. This sort of cheesy/brutal wet work is what he was hired to do, and the only reason he seems worse than he actually is (which is saying something even in this venue) is because the league’s PR arm claims to oppose racism, sexism, gender oppression, and other forms of social injustice. They clearly don’t, and their addiction to flimsy optics flies in the face of who they really are and what they really want to be, and the falsity of it only highlights how little they care or understand why anyone might care about any of those things. They surely wish they didn’t have to do Gruden the way they did him, but anyone outside The 32 is collateral damage with feet. Gruden just had to do some time for the team.

What Pash’s rancid correspondence with Allen tells us, more than anything, is that Allen was wired solely because of his proximity to Snyder. Otherwise, he was just another charmless middle manager who talked too much and got others to talk too much, too. Every team has an Allen—Houston has the gloriously and theatrically amoral Jack Easterby, just to name the most obvious one—and Pash surely did and does the same dance with all of The 32’s dedicated factotums. Everyone involved was simply doing their jobs; no billionaire becomes a billionaire without someone to handle the grease gun, and every enterprise as profitable as the NFL glides forward on a sheet of lawyer-approved cynicism.

I say all this only to remind you that anyone and everyone expecting “the league” or “the commissioner” or “your local owner” to acknowledge, address, or repair some social problem is effectively asking a fox to adhere to a vegan diet after making itself at home in a henhouse. Social justice is a Halloween costume for these people, nothing more. The 32 hate anyone who isn’t a member of The 32, and the rest of humanity is reduced to people who can keep you out of jail or people who can be dismissed. The 32 will put a worthy slogan on an end zone here and there, but if you cross any of them, they’ll bury you underneath the paint. This can also happen if you don’t. Ask Gruden. He got fired for using their in-house terminology but for pointing it in the wrong direction.

If there is an issue the rest of The 32 need to address with these new damnations about Pash, it comes with wondering whether he would go to bat for them the way he has for Snyder. If I’m Zygi Wilf or Jimmy Haslam or Terry Pegula or Amy Strunk, I’d like to know that Pash has enough sludge in his briefcase to cover my tracks too. And of course he doesn’t. Owners come in at different levels when it comes to wallet-heft and power, and despite being a billionaire herself, Denise York doesn’t have as much throw-weight as Jerry Jones. David Tepper isn’t as juiced as Bob Kraft. 

There are levels to all this, and they are not all about bank balances. The reason why Snyder’s $4 billion net worth weighs more than Tepper’s $12 billion is because Snyder needs it more. The precedent of the NFL losing an owner strictly because of that owner’s swinish behavior is not one to be tolerated. Impunity is fundamental to the worldview of the NFL’s ruling class. The 32 must hang together or plea bargain separately on their way to Costa Rica.

Which leaves us where we are. The Times caught Jeff Pash being Jeff Pash. It won’t deter him from continuing to make his rounds as Jeff Pash unless the league decides it can do without him. Allen is well on his way to becoming the league’s Typhoid Mary, but that’s only because the press has access to his old inbox. The 32 are and will remain immune until one of them somehow goes down for a reason other than not having enough money. Since they all still have way more than enough money, Jeff Pash remains worth his weight in Hooters VIP cards.

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