Goodell urged by Congress to release report in Washington
Former Washington Commanders employees and members of Congress on Thursday pressured the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell to release a report into the team’s history of sexual harassment and its sexist and hostile work culture. They say the team and owner Dan Snyder have not been held responsible for their wrongdoings.
Snyder commissioned a survey of the team’s work environment which was taken up by the NFL. After the investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson’s firm, the league fined Washington $10 million and Snyder temporarily handed over day-to-day operations of the team to his wife, Tanya.
But the league has not released any details about the findings of the Wilkinson investigation, and former team employees who spoke to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Thursday noted the contrast with how the NFL investigated allegations that quarterback Tom Brady deflated footballs.
“When Tom Brady’s football air pressure investigation ends with a 200+ page report, but the investigation into two decades of sexual harassment ends with nothing, it shows the complete disrespect of the NFL to women, their employees and for the culture of our country,” said Emily Applegate, who worked in the team’s marketing department and said she was sexually harassed daily by her boss.
In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd and widespread protests against systemic racism, the team dropped its longtime name “Redskins” under pressure from sponsors to get rid of a moniker that has been criticized for decades for being offensive to Native Americans. The team was known as the Washington Football Team until Wednesday, when Snyder announced its new name, the Commanders.
“Just yesterday, Mr. Snyder tried to rebrand his team as Commanders. With all due respect, it will take more than a name change to fix this broken culture,” said Rep. Carol Maloney, DN.Y., chair of the committee.
Former team employee Tiffani Johnston made new allegations against Snyder on Thursday, claiming he placed his hand on her thigh without her consent during a team dinner and slapped her. pushed towards her limo with her hand on her lower back.
“He left his hand in the middle of my thigh until I physically removed it,” Johnston said.
Describing the incident outside Snyder’s limo, she said: ‘The only reason Dan Snyder took his hand off my back and stopped pushing me towards his limo is because his lawyer stepped in and said, ‘Dan, Dan, that’s a bad idea.’ …I learned that I had to get out of Dan’s grip while his lawyer distracted him.
Maloney read a letter from another former team employee, Jason Friedman, corroborating Johnston’s account.
Among the allegations repeated during Thursday’s roundtable: that women working for the team were repeatedly subjected to unwanted touching and rude comments; that the cheerleaders were ogled by team executives and clients and fired by Snyder because of their appearance; and that the team’s video production department, at Snyder’s request, secretly edited an explicit cheerleading video using clandestine footage from a schedule shoot.
It was unclear whether pressure from Congress would cause Goodell, who cited the private lives of former employees for not releasing the investigative report, to change his mind or take other action against Snyder or the team. League and team spokespersons did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the status of the report or the new allegations against Snyder.
Republicans said it was beyond the committee’s purview to propose a legislative solution to the team’s treatment of employees and said the roundtable was a distraction from more pressing issues.
“The witnesses here have begged us to do something, and nothing will happen as a result of this committee,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx, RN.C. “It’s cruel for these people.”
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