Do you remember this time last week, when the biggest sports news around the Washington football team was that it was dropping “Redskins?”
That feels as if it were a month ago after the Washington Post story this week that featured 15 women discussing their experiences of sexual harassment and verbal abuse within the organization.
Sadly, after reading the article, I wasn’t shocked.
But not shocked because the idea of an employee of the Washington football team in a toxic environment under Dan Snyder’s ownership isn’t a mind-blowing revelation.
If you need proof, just look at the past 21 years, and how this team has run through nine coaches, countless front office members, and even more quarterbacks.
While only one allegation in the story named Snyder directly (that he belittled a former male cheerleader and made him do cartwheels), he is responsible for the culture that was created. Whether that be through edict or ignorance, he is the owner, and has been for more than two decades. The only constants are losing and repeated embarrassment on and off the field.
But this is a new level. These women aren’t just part of another Redskins “embarrassment,” they are human beings who were berated, verbally abused, and sexually harassed while trying to do their jobs.
Even more pathetic, when they couldn’t, they had nowhere to turn.
“There’s no HR,” said one former female employee in the Post story. “And there was never a reporting process, nor was one explained to new employees about how you should report something.”
According to the Washington Post report, the team’s human resources staff included one full-time staffer who held other administrative duties.
Snyder once gave $55 million to a 32-year-old Deion Sanders, and he couldn’t staff a full HR department?
According to the Post’s findings, the only resource new female hires apparently had were other women in the organization who warned them about those who behaved dubiously, and to avoid a notorious staircase near the entrance to team headquarters where someone at the bottom could look up a woman’s skirt or dress.
Snyder issued a statement Friday that said, “The behavior described in yesterday’s Washington Post article has no place in our franchise or society.”
He said the team has hired lawyer Beth Wilkinson to do a “full, unbiased investigation and make any and all requisite recommendations.”
The NFL also condemned what took place in Washington and promised action at the conclusion of the investigation.
Hold on! You expect the club to pledge its full cooperation, and then you’ll meet with the lawyers to discuss the findings.
Has Roger Goodell ever heard the line, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me?”
Snyder’s organization has made this public relations play before. In May 2018, a New York Times piece included unsavory accusations by former Redskins cheerleaders of how they were “pimped out” on a 2013 photo-shoot/sponsor trip to Costa Rica.
Then-team president Bruce Allen said the organization was “very concerned” by the accusations and “we are immediately looking into this situation and want to express how serious we take these allegations.” Allen also said, “I can promise that once we have completed looking into this matter, if it is revealed that any of our employees acted inappropriately, those employees will face significant repercussions.”
That was 2018, and yet here we are again still talking about a toxic culture and another incident that includes women of this organization.
An internal investigation alone will not suffice.
Yes, the team has brought in Wilkinson, an accomplished attorney. However, she was hired by the team, and Snyder is the client.
When the Dallas Mavericks faced similar allegations in 2018, owner Mark Cuban notified the NBA and an independent investigation was launched with oversight from the league office.
Where is the oversight from the NFL?
In 2018, Goodell hired Mary Joe White, a former U.S. attorney and chairwoman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, to head the investigation into former Carolina Panthers owners Jerry Richardson for his workplace-conduct violations.
The NFL also hired ex-FBI director Robert Mueller to investigate the league’s controversial handling of the Ray Rice domestic-violence case.
The NFL hired New Jersey attorney Ted Wells to investigate Tom Brady and deflated footballs, yet somehow Snyder’s football operation has two major claims by groups of female employees and the NFL seems content with his organization running the operation.
Sure, Goodell works for the owners, who will not attempt to bounce a peer for fear of what skeletons could be found in their organizations’ closets.
But Goodell is also the commissioner who once said after the New Orleans Saints’ “Bountygate” scandal that “ignorance is not an excuse.”
Snyder’s ignorance of his team’s workplace culture can no longer be an excuse.
The NFL and Goodell must handle the investigation because you can’t trust Snyder to get this right, because in more than 21 years of his ownership, this organization hasn’t shown that it’s gotten anything right.
Wes McElroy hosts a daily sports talk show from 2-6 p.m. on 910 and 105.1.