Roger Goodell Will Testify Before House Oversight Committee Commanders Workplace Has Been Corrected

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will today testify remotely before the House Oversight Committee investigating the toxic workplace culture of the Washington Commanders and his prepared statement will contend the club has addressed and corrected its problems.

This is what Goodell will testify in six pages of opening remarks before answering questions — a copy of which has been obtained by OutKick:

“It is clear to me that the workplace in Washington was unprofessional and unacceptable
in numerous respects: bullying, widespread disrespect toward colleagues, use of demeaning
language, public embarrassment, and harassment. Moreover, for a prolonged period of time the
Commanders had a woefully deficient HR function, particularly with respect to reporting
practices and recordkeeping. As a result, we imposed unprecedented discipline on the club –
monetary penalties of well over $10 million, and requirements that the club implement a series of
recommendations and allow an outside firm to conduct regular reviews of their workplace. In
addition, for the past year, Daniel Snyder has not attended League or committee meetings, and to
the best of my knowledge, has not been involved in day-to-day operations at the Commanders.
The cheerleader program has been entirely revamped and is now a co-ed dance team under new
leadership. And the most recent independent workplace report, which we have shared with the
Committee, confirms that an entirely new, highly skilled, and diverse management team is in
place and that there has been a “substantial transformation of [the team’s] culture, leadership,
and Human Resources practices.” To be clear – the workplace at the Commanders today bears
no resemblance to the workplace that has been described to this committee.”

Goodell will explain that the investigation carried out by former federal prosecutor Beth Wilkinson did not provide his office with a written report and explain the reasoning:

“We did not receive a written report of Ms. Wilkinson’s findings for compelling reasons
that continue to this day. A critical element of any workplace review is broad participation by
both current and former employees. Encouraging employees to come forward and share their
experiences, which were frequently painful and emotional was essential to identifying both the
organization’s failures and how to fix them. To encourage this participation, Ms. Wilkinson
promised confidentiality to any current or former employee. For this reason, shortly after we
assumed oversight of Ms. Wilkinson’s work, we determined that a comprehensive oral briefing
would best allow us to receive the information necessary both to evaluate the workplace as it
was, and to ensure that the team put in place the policies and processes to reform that workplace
– all while preserving the confidentiality of those who participated in the investigation. Oral
reports are often used by the NFL and other organizations in conducting internal investigations
and for other issues. If appropriate, we will make public a summary of the key findings, as we
did here. We have been open and direct about the fact that the workplace culture at the
Commanders was not only unprofessional, but toxic for far too long.”

And Goodell says he will assert privilege of not sharing certain information in Wilkinson’s findings — a reported 166,000 pages in 40,000 documents — in order to protect this and future investigations.

“I am aware that some victims, including those who appeared before this Committee, each
of whom was invited to participate in Beth Wilkinson’s investigation, have chosen to share their
experiences publicly and I fully respect that choice. Many others made a different choice and it
is my responsibility to honor the commitment to protect their confidentiality. I am confident that
should there be another investigation at the NFL or our clubs where similar discretion is desired,
future witnesses will feel comfortable sharing their experiences knowing that we do not go back
on our word. When the Committee has asked questions or requested documents which could
violate witnesses’ privacy, we have asserted privilege. We will continue to do so to safeguard
our commitment.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

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