NFL Takes over Investigation into Allegations of Washington Workplace Misconduct

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2020

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder walks the sidelines before an NFL football game between the Redskins and the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants won the game 24-3. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

The NFL is taking the lead on an investigation into the Washington Football Team following a second report by the Washington Post detailing allegations of a toxic work environment within the franchise. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported the development and added that team owner Daniel Snyder "was supportive of the step." Snyder said in a statement that it was he and his wife Tanya who suggested the NFL "assume full oversight" so that the results of the probe are trusted:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

A statement from Dan and Tanya Snyder, revealing he suggested to Roger Goodell that the NFL take over the investigation of the Washington Football Team. https://t.co/o1gCvBJamB

Washington Football Team president Jason Wright tweeted that he is "fully supportive" of the decision.

The Washington Football Team brought in lawyer Beth Wilkinson to investigate the franchise following the Post's first report. Wilkinson will continue in that role, with the only change being that she's reporting directly to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

This move by the NFL was to ensure the further independence of the investigation. https://t.co/vkiQ7heWmi

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

Beth Wilkinson and her team will still conduct the investigation but they will now report to Roger Goodell and the NFL. https://t.co/92cPvGk05e

In a report released in July, the Washington Post's Will Hobson and Liz Clarke interviewed 15 former employees who said they were the victims of sexual harassment while working with the team. 

Larry Michael, the team's former senior vice president of content and former director of pro personnel Alex Santos were named in the report. The report said Michael "routinely discussed the physical appearance of female colleagues in sexual and disparaging overtones." Santos was investigated by the team after The Athletic's Rhiannon Walker said he had pinched her, made an inappropriate comment about her body and repeatedly made unwanted advances toward her.

No direct allegations were made against Snyder.

The follow-up report, from Hobson, Clarke, Beth Reinhard and Dalton Bennett on Aug. 26, was more directly critical of Snyder:

"But interviews with more than 100 current and former employees and a review of internal company documents and other records show that, in his 21 years of ownership, Snyder has presided over an organization in which women say they have been marginalized, discriminated against and exploited. The employees also described an atmosphere in which bullying and demeaning behavior by management created a climate of fear that allowed abusive behavior to continue unchecked."

Brad Baker, a video producer who worked with Michael, alleged Michael directed his staff to collect a series of outtakes from a video of a photo shoot for a Washington Football Team cheerleader swimsuit calendar. The outtakes included clips of the women in which their breasts were exposed.

According to Baker, Michael indicated the video would be for Snyder.

Former cheerleader Tiffany Bacon Scourby also spoke about an incident in 2004 at a charity event. Scourby said Snyder made a comment to the effect of suggesting she should go up to a hotel room with another man.

Former cheerleader director Donald Wells told the Post that Scourby informed him of the conversation and said "she was more or less propositioned."

Snyder issued a statement denying some of the claims made in the report.

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Statement from Dan Snyder in response to the allegations in today’s Washington Post: https://t.co/vuvfUAO4q0

He added that the Washington Post investigation was "riddled with questionable and unnamed sources, decades-old allegations and is not a reflection of The Washington Football Team today."

Goodell issued a $2.75 million fine to Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson in June 2018 after corroborating workplace misconduct claims against him. Richardson's sale of the Panthers to David Tepper was finalized the following month.