The NFL opted not to suspend Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder, and the league’s lengthy investigation into sexual harassment allegations by 15 former WFT female employees did not produce a written report of investigator Beth Wilkinson’s findings. Although the league fined the franchise $10MM after the investigation revealed a problematic culture, particular toward women, its handling of this matter has generated some scrutiny.
Snyder’s status has also invited some debate. The longtime owner is currently sidelined from a day-to-day role with the franchise, ceding those responsibilities to his wife, new WFT co-CEO Tanya Snyder. A Washington Post report Thursday night indicated Dan Snyder will not be permitted to return to a day-to-day role running the team until he receives approval from Roger Goodell, but Snyder’s attorney disputes this.
“Any suggestion that Commissioner Goodell must approve Dan Snyder’s return to daily control is false,” Siev said, via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). “Dan was not suspended, so by definition he does not need to be reinstated to any position.”
Siev’s comments did not induce the Post to make any retractions on its original report (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk). Snyder may still attend Washington games, but his role going forward is murky.
The NFL’s stance appears to be that Dan Snyder will be effectively sidelined for a while. The league’s release said Tanya Snyder will oversee the day-to-day aspects of the Washington Football team and represent the franchise at league meetings for “at least” the next several months. Based on his attorney’s comments, Dan Snyder may be readying to contest this arrangement.
Earlier today, we learned that the NFL slapped the Washington Football Team with a $10MM fine following the league’s investigation into sexual harassment allegations. Following the announcement, commissioner RogerGoodell released a statement:
“I want to thank Beth Wilkinson and her team for conducting a thorough and independent review of the Washington club’s workplace culture and conduct and providing both the club and me with a series of thoughtful recommendations based on her findings,” Goodell said (via NFL.com). “Beth and her team performed their work in a highly professional and ethical manner. Most importantly, I want to thank the current and former employees who spoke to Beth and her team; they provided vital information that will help ensure that the workplace environment at the club continues to improve. It is incredibly difficult to relive painful memories. I am grateful to everyone who courageously came forward.”
We also learned that while the NFL didn’t suspended owner DanSnyder, his wife, co-CEO Tanya Snyder, will now oversee the organization’s day-to-day operations. The decision to replace Dan Snyder with Tanya Snyder was “voluntary” and wasn’t mandated by the league, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. However, Mark Maske of the Washington Post clarifies (on Twitter) that Dan Snyder can only return to his day-to-day role following approval from Goodell. In the meantime, while Dan Snyder won’t be responsible for the team’s day-to-day operations, he’ll still play a role in getting the organization a new stadium (per Garafolo).
Meanwhile, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com tweets that the NFL won’t unveil any specific findings, as the league promised multiple interviewees that their “confidentiality would be protected.” Later, Florio shared that lawyers of the WFT employees blasted the league’s lack of transparency.
Washington will not be docked draft picks or see executives suspended, but independent counsel Beth Wilkinson’s investigation will result in this fine and what the NFL calls “other remedial measures and penalties.” It will also impact owner Dan Snyder‘s role.
The NFL did not suspend Dan Snyder, but his wife — co-CEO Tanya Snyder — will now oversee the franchise’s day-to-day operations, according to the league’s announcement. Tanya Snyder will also represent the WFT at NFL owners meetings for the next several months. The WFT announced Tanya Snyder as co-CEO last month. Dan Snyder will remain involved with the team, though it is not known when he will resume day-to-day control.
The accusations, which included “unwelcome overtures or comments of a sexual nature” and “exhortations to wear revealing clothing and flirt with clients to close sales deals” stemmed from 2006-19. Three former members of Dan Snyder’s inner circle and previous members of the team’s personnel department were among those accused.
Washington’s workplace featured an unprofessional environment, for women in particular, for many years, according to the NFL-overseen investigation, which noted that bullying and intimidation occurred. Wilkinson also concluded senior WFT execs were indeed among the perpetrators and that ownership rarely acted to intervene.
“I have learned a lot in the past few months about how my club operated and the kind of workplace we had,” Dan Snyder said in a statement. “It is now clear the culture was not what it should be, but I did not realize the extent of the problems or my role in allowing that culture to develop and continue.”
As with any ownership change, there was optimism in Washington on this date in 1999. Fast forward 22 years, and this was an era that fans would probably prefer to forget. On May 25, 1999, DanielSnyder was approved as the new owner of the Washington NFL franchise.
The organization was up for sale following the death of former owner Jack Kent Cooke, and Snyder ponied up a then-record $800MM for the team and Jack Kent Cooke Stadium (which is now FedEx Field). Snyder’s first season at the helm was a success; his team won 10 games, the first time they hit double-digit victories since their Super Bowl-winning season in 1991. Since that time, the on-field product has been disappointing (to say the least).
Since Snyder took over as owner, the team has gone 149-202-1 with only six playoff appearance. The team has also shuffled through 10 head coaches, including four different coaches between 1999 and 2002. Snyder hasn’t necessarily endeared himself to fans during this time; he sued season ticket holders during a recession, he temporarily banned fans from bringing signs into his stadium, and he threatened a lawsuit against a local newspaper that detailed his various controversies.
Speaking of…Snyder has also found himself in a number of off-field controversies. The owner was at the forefront of the whole name-change fiasco, refusing to change the Redskins moniker until pressured by major sponsors in 2020. That same year, Snyder was a main player in a Washington Post series that detailed rampant sexual harassment and discrimination within the organization. All the while, Snyder has found himself engaged in a number of additional ventures. This includes sports radio, an Arena Football League team, Six Flags, and Johnny Rockets. Generally, these side hustled didn’t work out all that well.
Unfortunately for fans of WFT, it doesn’t sound like Snyder is going anywhere any time soon. After selling part of his ownership to pay off team debt, Snyder managed to repurchase the remaining 40.5-percent of the team this past March. The purchase was unanimously approved by league owners.
On this date in 1999, Washington fans were likely dreaming of a return to glory. Instead, these fans have endured plenty of controversies (along with rising ticket prices and parking) in exchange for a pair of playoff wins over two-plus decades.
Dan Snyder now owns the Washington Football Team outright. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com recently reported that Snyder has officially acquired the 40% interest in the team previously held by minority owners Frederick Smith, Robert Rothman, and Dwight Schar (Twitter link).
The three minority owners had filed suit seeking a ruling that Snyder must purchase all of their shares or none of them, as their value is higher collectively than individually (Snyder was reportedly willing to purchase the 25% share owned by Smith and Rothman but not the 15% share owned by Schar). The litigation had taken an ugly turn, with Snyder filing his own suit alleging that Schar had engaged in a smear campaign by leaking information concerning a $1.6MM settlement that WFT reached in 2009 with a former female employee who accused Snyder of sexual misconduct. To be clear, two separate investigations in 2009 failed to substantiate the former employee’s claims, and Snyder did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement.
Whether Schar had anything to do with the reports on that settlement or not, it came just months after a number of former female employees came forward with allegations of a longstanding culture of sexual abuse. The NFL’s investigation into those allegations is ongoing, but it is not presently expected to amount to significant (if any) sanctions.
Snyder certainly doesn’t seem concerned that he will face any sanctions that will affect his ownership. As Peter King of NBC Sports wrote in his last Football Morning in America column, Snyder borrowed heavily to buy out the minority owners, a buyout that checked in at $950MM (Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post tweeted that the final price tag was $875MM, but either way, it was a sizable chunk of change).
Obviously, this development further entrenches Snyder at the top of WFT, and as King writes, the multi-billionaire has no intention of selling the club. Though he may take on other partners in the future to offset his newly-incurred debt, he actually intends to one day pass the club down to the next generation of Snyders.
So buckle up, WFT fans. In the 22 years of the Syder regime, Washington has won just four division titles and has just two playoff wins (both in the wildcard round). It has not won a postseason game in 15 years, though the club has put together a solid offseason and should compete for the NFC East crown again in 2021.
Though the Washington Football Team may be able to clinch the NFC East with a win over the Panthers today, the club can never seem to escape drama. In addition to quarterback Dwayne Haskins‘ poor decision-making that made headlines this past week, more developments in the team’s ownership dispute continue to take attention away from the on-field product.
The problem is that majority owner Dan Snyder has the right of first refusal when minority owners attempt to sell their shares, and Snyder is reportedly willing to purchase the 25% share owned by Smith and Rothman but not the 15% share owned by Schar. Smith, Rothman, and Schar have filed suit seeking a ruling that Snyder must purchase all of the shares or none of them (as their value is higher collectively than individually).
A few days ago, Will Hobson, Beth Reinhard, and Liz Clarke of the Washington Post published a story revealing that WFT paid a former female employee $1.6MM as part of a confidential settlement in 2009 after the employee accused Snyder of sexual misconduct that allegedly took place on Snyder’s private plane. Snyder believes the timing of the article is not a coincidence, and he has filed his own suit claiming that Schar is engaging in a smear campaign and is attempting to gain leverage in the ownership dispute by leaking information concerning the settlement.
As John Keim of ESPN.com details, the Post story was published several days after a New York Times piece which made clear that two separate investigations in 2009 failed to substantiate the former employee’s claims. Plus, Snyder did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement, and Snyder himself said that the team’s insurance carrier ultimately decided to settle the matter.
Of course, a number of former female employees came forward just this summer with allegations of a longstanding culture of sexual abuse within the organization, and an investigation into those allegations is ongoing. But the last we heard, Snyder himself was not directly involved in any harassment or abuse, so unless there are new developments in that regard, Snyder will not be forced to sell the club.
In the minority owners’ suit against Snyder, the court issued an order “requiring the parties to maintain confidentiality and to refrain from disparaging any of the other parties,” as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. On January 7, the minority owners and Snyder will appear in court to answer questions regarding their potential violations of that order. And according to Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, the NFL has hired former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to assist in its investigation into Schar’s alleged smear tactics.
As Florio observes in a separate piece, the league does not approve of the minority owners taking their dispute to court, and it obviously wants to prevent other partial owners from forcing the hand of a majority owner by manipulating the media. But the league will also need to investigate the alleged 2009 incident, and depending on the outcome of that investigation, Schar may end up getting what he wants anyway.
TODAY: Any punishment the Redskins face is likely to be limited to fines, Maske writes in a full-length story. Because Snyder himself was not directly involved in any harassment, this situation is different from the one that culminated in former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson selling his team several years ago. It’s also why the league is likely to defer to Wilkinson’s findings rather than conduct a separate investigation.
So unless there are new developments with respect to Snyder’s role, it seems he will keep his team and his draft picks. Snyder and his wife, Tanya, emailed an apology letter to every member of the organization on Friday night (via Schefter on Twitter).
JULY 17: The much-ballyhooed story concerning the Redskins’ organizational culture broke last night via a Washington Post article that details sexual abuse allegations made by 15 former female employees of the team. As a preemptive strike, the club hired DC-based attorney Beth Wilkinson to conduct a thorough review of its protocols, and depending on what Wilkinson finds, the Redskins could be subject to league discipline.
The NFL released the following statement in response to the story (via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com on Twitter):
“These matters as reported are serious, disturbing and contrary to the NFL’s values. Everyone in the NFL has the right to work in an environment free from any and all forms of harassment. Washington has engaged outside counsel to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations. The club has pledged that it will give its full cooperation to the investigator and we expect the club and all employees to do so. We will meet with the attorneys upon the conclusion of their investigation and take any action based on the findings.”
So it certainly sounds as if a fine and/or draft pick forfeiture could be in the cards. And while owner Dan Snyder was not accused of harassment himself, this report will doubtlessly intensify the already loud cries for him to sell the team.
It will also be interesting to see if the NFL undertakes its own investigation once Wilkinson’s is complete. After all, the Redskins are Wilkinson’s client, so her duty is to them. As Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv suggests, it would be a bad look for the league to allow the organizational review to be handled exclusively by a person hand-picked by the organization (Twitter link). Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has also called on commissioner Roger Goodell to get to the bottom of the matter, as Mark Maske of the Washington Post tweets.
Snyder, meanwhile, issued the following statement (via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com on Twitter):
“The behavior described in yesterday’s Washington Post article has no place in our franchise or society. This story has strengthened my commitment to setting a new culture and standard for our team, a process that began with the hiring of Coach [Ron] Rivera earlier this year. Beth Wilkinson and her firm are empowered to do a full, unbiased investigation and make any and all requisite recommendations. Upon completion of her work, we will institute new policies and procedures and strengthen our human resources infrastructure to not only avoid these issues in the future but most importantly create a team culture that is respectful and inclusive of all.”
In other Redskins news, the team announced that it has promoted Jeff Scott to the role of assistant director of pro scouting/advance coordinator. Scott will oversee advance scouting of opponents and evaluate potential talent in NFL free agency and all other pro leagues. He will still assist with the evaluation of trade scenarios during the draft (Twitterlinks via NFL Insider Adam Caplan).
“The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously … While we do not speak to specific employee situations publicly, when new allegations of conduct are brought forward that are contrary to these policies, we address them promptly,” the team said in a statement.
14 of the women spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing litigation after signing nondisclosure agreements that prevented them from speaking negatively about the organization. The Redskins declined a request from the Washington Post to release those individuals from those agreements. Owner DanSnyder also declined “several requests” for an interview.
Notably, three team employees have abruptly left the organization in recent weeks. Director of pro personnel AlexSantos and assistant director of pro personnel RichardMann II were fired from their positions, while longtime radio personality LarryMichael left his position earlier this week.
As the article details, the allegations stem from 2006 to 2019, and the allegations include “unwelcome overtures or comments of a sexual nature, and exhortations to wear revealing clothing and flirt with clients to close sales deals.” Among those accused of harassment are “three former members of Snyder’s inner circle and two longtime members of the personnel department.” Besides the aforementioned individuals, the Post identifies former president of business operations DennisGreene and former COO MitchGershman as harassers.
While none of the women accused Snyder nor former team president BruceAllen of harassment, the women “expressed skepticism the men were unaware of the behavior they allege.” The women also cited Snyder’s “understaffed human resources department” and a “sophomoric culture of verbal abuse among top executives.”
The article is filled with anecdotes, text messages, and internal company documents that seem to substantiate the claims. As Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com notes, this certainly won’t be the end of the story. While Snyder refused to be interviewed for the Washington Post story, he can’t stay silent forever, and there will surely be increased calls for him to sell the team.
Washington owner Dan Snyder has been lobbying the Maryland legislature to permit his organization a sports gambling license. Unsurprisingly, Snyder is lobbying the Virginia legislature as well, according to Erin Cox and Ovetta Wiggins of the Washington Post. Per the Washington Post report, Snyder has built some momentum towards a bill’s passage. The legislature will be voting on two sports gambling bills on Monday, but it remains unclear whether either will pass at this point.
Obviously every NFL team would benefit greatly from a gambling license and Snyder would surely be happy to create a new revenue stream for his organization. Of course, Snyder has yet to show much competence on the football side of his team ownership, however, it is hardly new for an owner to consistently prioritize financial returns to football performance.
Going forward, if Snyder were able to obtain a license, other ownership groups would surely try to emulate his tactics. The league may also step in and attempt to adjudicate if teams with licenses have to share revenues with teams in states with less amenable legislatures.
Although since-fired team president Bruce Allen took most of the heat for the Redskins’ personnel decisions during the 2010s, Dan Snyder has continued to play a role in the franchise’s football operations. Allen was also believed to be on the side of drafting Dwayne Haskins, but John Keim and Jason Reid of ESPN.com write Snyder appeared to lead that charge — even though the owner once criticized for his big-ticket moves has contributed less input on that front in recent years. Some in Washington’s building placed a third-round grade on Haskins, per Keim and Reid. Haskins was viewed as a first-round pick for most of the pre-draft process. While Ron Rivera is expected to have more control over Redskins personnel matters than Jay Gruden, sources informed the ESPN duo they still expect Snyder to be involved.
Here is the latest out of Washington:
New defensive coordinatorJack Del Rio confirmed the Redskins will shift back to a 4-3 base defense, Les Carpenter of the Washington Post notes. Both Rivera and Del Rio have used 4-3 bases for most of their respective careers, so this should come as no surprise. However, Snyder is believed to have made this a point of emphasis, per Keim and Reid. The Redskins have not deployed a 4-3 base defense in 11 seasons, though with teams’ increased nickel usage, transitions in front-seven schemes are not as significant as they once were. This will make Washington’s starting lineup interesting, however, with the team having three talented interior defenders — Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and 2019 sack leader Matt Ioannidis — up front.
Ryan Kerrigan just completed a down year, registering a career-low 5.5 sacks and missing the first two games of his career. The productive Redskins edge defender is going into a contract year, but Keim tweets Kerrigan and previous Redskins management had engaged in extension talks in 2019. Kerrigan, 31, would like to stay with Washington on a third contract.
Rather than retirement, Alex Smith will continue his efforts to return to the field. The Redskins quarterback has missed the past 22 games because of a gruesome leg injury that required numerous surgeries. “I still have dreams of getting back to where I was and getting back out there,” Smith said, via NBC Sports Washington’s Ethan Cadeaux. “This has been a crazy ride with a lot of unforeseen turns, but without a doubt, that’s still my goal.” Smith, 35, is set to count $21.4MM against Washington’s cap this season. No cap savings can come of a Smith release until 2021.