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Phillips: Tanya Snyder's remarks show that the family continues to see themselves as the victims in WFT sexual misconduct cases
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Phillips: Tanya Snyder's remarks show that the family continues to see themselves as the victims in WFT sexual misconduct cases

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Co-CEO Tanya Snyder and team president Jason Wright, shown taking in a training camp practice in Richmond, have provided new leadership for the Washington Football Team. Sexual-harassment allegations are a major off-field issue for the organization.

ASHBURN - The last time we heard from Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder, he was explaining that the solution to the Dan Snyder problem was more Dan Snyder.

“I have admittedly been too hands-off as an owner and allowed others to have day-to-day control to the detriment of our organization,” he wrote in an Aug. 2020 statement, on the day 15 women came forward in a Washington Post story alleging sexual harassment by team executives (the number later grew to 42).

Nearly a year later, he was profiled in the Wall Street Journal, an article that said Snyder “thought one of his greatest mistakes was not being more active as the franchise rotted on and off the field.”

Since then, an NFL investigation came to similar conclusions about the franchise having rotted, and Snyder handed the keys to his wife, Tanya Snyder, who now runs day-to-day operations.

Tanya made her first public comments on Tuesday in a podcast with ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The interview started with her explaining that she gets a “lump in her throat” when thinking about the past year, describing it as “a cross between a crime show and a nightmare movie.”

Schefter asks her to clarify — what was it that was so difficult? She responds it’s been the pain of her family hearing some of the things that were said in the media (“it is what it is — everybody’s going to say whatever”).

Schefter then makes one more try.

“It seems like you’re tiptoeing around what’s bothering you,” he said. “What gave you that lump in your throat? ... What made it such a difficult year?”

Given the opportunity to acknowledge the 42 women, Snyder kept the focus on herself and her family.

“I think we could have very easily run away and been fine, and sailed away,” she said of her family, which owns a yacht reportedly valued at $180 million. “Drinking piña coladas. But that’s not who we are. That’s not what I want to teach my kids.”

Later she continued: “I didn’t want to teach my kids to run away and to go hide and to not — you know, the truth should always set you free, and, you know, stand strong for that.”

To suggest that Tanya and Dan are the same person is grossly unfair to both.

Tanya deserves commendation for starting the NFL’s “think pink” breast cancer awareness campaign, and pinning the worst of the last two decades on her is unfair.

But in her attempt to turn the page, she continued the family tradition of overlooking why the page needs turning in the first place. In case anybody needs a reminder, here is an excerpt from the NFL’s summary of its investigation:

“Bullying and intimidation frequently took place and many described the culture as one of fear, and numerous female employees reported having experienced sexual harassment and a general lack of respect in the workplace.

“Ownership and senior management paid little or no attention to these issues. In some instances, senior executives engaged in inappropriate conduct themselves, including use of demeaning language and public embarrassment.”

Those words aren’t from “the media.”

They’re from the NFL.

Luckily, Tanya Snyder knows just the right people to clean up this mess.

It’s Dan and Tanya Snyder.

She noted that her family purchased the team outright during the summer, suggesting that leaves it better positioned to make the needed changes.

“We’re 100% owners, and we’re in a much stronger position to be able to make each and every change that we need to make,” she said. “So that I’m very excited about.”

It’s true the family only owned 59.5% of the Washington Football Team. It’s also true that the shares for the other 40.5% came with a stipulation that there was no voting power or voice in the day-to-day operations of the team — that remained solely with the Snyder family.

The Snyders have done little to demonstrate they are the right people to steward Washington’s NFL team, on or off the field, only that they possess the legal firepower to make sure they retain ownership.

Snyder was named co-CEO three days before the NFL issued its findings, but Tanya said on the podcast that had been discussed for “months.”

If she can implement change in the organization, it will greatly benefit the city and the fan base.

But Tuesday’s appearance, glossing over the plight of the 42 women who alleged sexual harassment, shows that the family still has trouble identifying the real victims.

mphillips@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6546

Twitter: @michaelpRTD

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