NFL Can't Release Findings from Commanders Probe Without Daniel Snyder's Permission

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 4, 2022

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder walks the sidelines before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. The Redskins won the game 16-3. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini

The NFL may be unable to publicly release details from the investigation into the Washington Commanders' workplace culture without the "explicit permission" of team owner Daniel Snyder.

ESPN's Tisha Thompson reported the update Friday amid hearings by the U.S. House Committee for Oversight and Reform, which also noted Washington originally sought a written report from Beth Wilkinson about her law firm's findings but only received the results via oral presentation.

The Commanders were fined $10 million by the NFL in July after Wilkinson's investigation.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn't mention Snyder's apparent ability to restrict access to details from the probe when asked in October, saying it was important to protect those who were interviewed throughout the process:

"That not only affects the investigation that you're going through, but it affects future investigations and the credibility of that. So when you make a promise to protect the anonymity to make sure that we get the right information, you need to stand by that. And so we're very conscious of making sure that we're protecting those that came forward. They were incredibly brave, incredibly open, and we respect the pain that they probably went through all over again to come forward."

Goodell added "steps were put in place to make sure that it does not happen again."

At the same league meetings where Goodell made those remarks, 12 former members of the Washington organization delivered a signed letter seeking the release of details from the investigation.

Two members of the House Committee for Oversight and Reform, representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi and Carolyn Maloney, sent a letter to the NFL commissioner Friday morning that stated their hearings have raised questions about his original explanation for not releasing the details, per Thompson:

"You have claimed that the NFL did not release Ms. Wilkinson's findings in order to protect the 'security, privacy and anonymity' of the more than 150 witnesses who courageously spoke to Ms. Wilkinson and her team. The Committee's investigation and the NFL's own legal documents raise serious doubts about this justification."

A statement from the committee Friday said Goodell "personally instructed" Wilkinson to deliver a verbal overview of her findings rather than compile a written report, per Thompson. The committee said that decision was a "stark departure" from previous investigations involving the NFL.

The committee also pointed to a document signed between the Washington franchise and the NFL in September 2020 that referenced a "joint legal strategy" regarding the release of information from the investigation, which gave Snyder the ability to block the release of documents, per Thompson.

Meanwhile, the NFL removed itself from the agreement in October when Congress began investigating the Commanders. Krishnamoorthi and Maloney told Goodell that created a "legal limbo" where both the league and the team can say it's unable to release the documents, according to the ESPN report.

The House Committee for Oversight and Reform hasn't provided a timetable for completing its probe into the Washington situation.