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The report from the House Oversight Committee is titled “Conduct Detrimental: How the NFL and Washington Commanders covered up decades of sexual misconduct.” So you have to know this isn’t going to paint the league or one of its legacy franchises in a good light.
In his committee deposition, Commanders owner Dan Snyder did “apologize for any workplace misconduct of the team.” But apparently he also blamed others around him and minimized the experiences of more than 100 current and former Commanders employees who had spoken up about the team’s toxic culture. They claimed their stories were “possibly” orchestrated by a former employee with a “negative agenda,” whom Snyder accused of trying to bribe his personal staff.
Former Commanders general manager Bruce Allen said in his committee deposition that Snyder wanted to have a private investigator look into Roger Goodell to gather information on the NFL commissioner.
And perhaps the biggest bombshell is that Snyder apparently was the source of the email leaks from Jon Gruden to Bruce Allen that led to Gruden resigning from the Las Vegas Raiders.
On the eve of Allen’s deposition, the committee contends, lawyers for Snyder sent the committee a batch of internal emails containing inappropriate content from Allen’s Commanders email account so “that Mr. Allen will have an opportunity to review them prior to his deposition.”
The emails included those that had been leaked to the Wall Street Journal and New York Times in October 2021.
There’s more in a minute.
“Today’s report reflects the damning findings of the Committee’s year-long investigation and shows how one of the most powerful organizations in America, the NFL, mishandled pervasive sexual harassment and misconduct at the Washington Commanders,” said outgoing committee chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D). “Our report tells the story of a team rife with sexual harassment and misconduct, a billionaire owner intent on deflecting blame, and an influential organization that chose to cover this up rather than seek accountability and stand up for employees.“
The Washington Commanders Respond
The Commanders responded immediately and the NFL will soon do so as well.
Commanders Respond To Report
“These congressional investigators demonstrated, almost immediately, that they were not interested in the truth, and were only interested in chasing headlines by pursuing one side of the story,” said a statement from John Brownlee and Stuart Nash, counsel for the Commanders. “Today’s report is the predictable culmination of that one-sided approach.
“There are no new revelations here. The committee persists in criticizing Mr. Snyder for declining to voluntarily appear at the committee’s hearing last spring, notwithstanding Mr. Snyder’s agreement to sit, at a date chosen by the committee, for an unprecedented 11-hours of questioning under oath. The only two members of congress who witnessed any part of that deposition, one Democrat and one Republican, both made public statements in the wake of the deposition characterizing Mr. Snyder’s answers as truthful, cooperative, and candid.
“As is typical of the committee, they have refused, despite our repeated requests to release the full transcript of Mr. Snyder’s deposition.”
Last Shot Fired At Snyder, Commanders?
The committee’s report is the last shot fired by the current sitting Congress against the Commanders and the NFL because the 2022 mid-term election flipped the house majority from Democrats to Republicans.
And the Republican ranking member James Comer of Kentucky released a statement on the Democrats’ report:
“From the beginning, Committee Democrats’ so-called ‘investigation’ into the Washington Commanders only served to deliberately target a private organization, gain cheap headlines, and ignore any information that did not align with their predetermined narrative,” Comer said. “Over the course of this sham investigation, the NFL and Washington Commanders cooperated and made efforts to ensure all relevant information was included and provided to Committee Members.
“As I’ve said from the start, the Oversight Committee is not the appropriate venue for this review and this effort is a misuse of resources.”
More Highlights From The Report
The report nonetheless exists. And it includes damning allegations.
- “For more than two decades, employees at the Commanders were subjected to a deeply entrenched toxic work culture under the leadership of Team owner Daniel Snyder. Mr. Snyder, who purchased the team in 1999, permitted and participated in this troubling conduct.”
- “The Committee’s February 3, 2022, roundtable revealed allegations that Mr. Snyder inappropriately touched former employee Tiffani Johnston at a work dinner and attempted to “aggressively push” her into his limousine until he was stopped by onlookers.”
- “Brad Baker, a former video production employee, described how Team executives “tasked us with producing a video for Snyder of sexually suggestive footage of cheerleaders, obviously unbeknownst to any of the women involved.”
- Melanie Coburn, a former cheerleader and marketing employee, stated: “At cheerleader auditions one year, Mr. Snyder ordered the director of the squad to parade the ladies onto the field while he and his friends gawked from his suite through binoculars.”
NFL Does Not Escape Unscathed By Report
The NFL conducted an investigation of Snyder and the Commanders and another one is still under way. The initial report by Beth Wilkinson led to Snyder being removed from his day-to-day decision-making over the team and the club being fined $10 million.
“The investigation into the Commanders’ workplace that was conducted by Beth Wilkinson’s firm was independent and thorough,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement provided to OutKick. “No individual who wished to speak to the Wilkinson firm was prevented from doing so by non-disclosure agreements. And many of the more than 150 witnesses who participated in the Wilkinson investigation did so on the condition that their identities would be kept confidential. Far from impeding the investigation, the common interest agreement enabled the NFL efficiently to assume oversight of the matter and avoided the potential for substantial delay and inconvenience to witnesses.
“Following the completion of Ms. Wilkinson’s investigation, the NFL issued a public release and imposed a record-setting fine on the club and its ownership. The club also implemented a series of recommendations by the Wilkinson firm and an independent firm has monitored the implementation of those recommendations through regular reviews of the Commanders’ workplace. All of these reviews, which were shared with the Committee, have concluded that the Commanders have made significant improvements in workplace culture and policies.”
But according to the committee report, Snyder interfered with the Wilkinson investigation by launching a shadow investigation into suspected sources of the Washington Post exposés, attempting to block Ms. Wilkinson’s access to information, and trying to silence employees who could implicate him in misconduct.
He also “offered hush money to silence several former employees during the Wilkinson Investigation.” The committee contends evidence shows that in February 2021, lawyers for Mr. Snyder “offered financial compensation” to former employees “who did not have live legal claims, but who had been vocal in their criticisms of the Team in order to secure additional non-disclosure agreements and keep them from talking further.”
Throughout the Wilkinson Investigation, the report contends, Snyder sent private investigators to the homes of former employees. Allen testified in a deposition that around March 2021, Snyder sent private investigators to his home in Arizona.
The investigators told Allen they were “just here to follow you” and “document your actions.” Allen also testified Snyder commented on his plans to use of private investigators to follow other individuals, including Goodell.
The committee also contends the NFL was aware of Snyder’s serious interference with the Wilkinson Investigation but failed to take adequate action to prevent it.
The committee report also says it uncovered key aspects of the NFL’s resolution following the Wilkinson investigation was negotiated with Snyder’s lawyers. That included the language in the NFL’s July 2021 announcement, the $10 million penalty levied against the Commanders, and the recommendations for the team to implement.
The NFL nonetheless believes it did its part in cooperating with congress.
“Over the past 13 months, the NFL has cooperated extensively with the Committee’s investigation, producing nearly a half million pages of documents, responding to dozens of written inquiries, and voluntarily participating in a two-and-a-half hour public hearing during which commissioner Goodell answered 128 questions,” McCarthy said.