By protecting Dan Snyder, the NFL potentially protected other owners

Washington Redskins by Atlanta Falcons
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The NFL, based on Beth Wilkinson’s investigation, generally found serious misconduct within the Washington Football Team. The NFL will not be sharing specific details about the behavior that resulted in the broad-brush findings that culminated in a $10 million fine, up to $7 million in attorneys’ fees, and a “voluntary” relinquishment of day-to-day control of the team by owner Daniel Snyder, which reportedly will end only when Commissioner Roger Goodell authorizes it.

The league’s refusal to even commission a written report from investigator Beth Wilkinson — which obviously prevents the written report from ever being released or leaked — shows that the league (in my opinion) wants to avoid the dissemination of any specific factual findings regarding things said and done. Those specifics easily would ignite social media and potentially inflame the situation, possibly resulting in the league ultimately forcing Snyder to sell the team.

Obviously, bad things happened. Bad enough to get Goodell to conclude “that for many years the workplace environment at the Washington Football Team, both generally and particularly for women, was highly unprofessional.” Goodell concluded that “[b]ullying and intimidation frequently took place and many described the culture as one of fear, and numerous female employees reported having experienced sexual harassment and a general lack of respect in the workplace.” Goodell also found that “[o]wnership and senior management paid little or no attention to these issues,” that “senior executives engaged in inappropriate conduct themselves, including use of demeaning language and public embarrassment.”

So what caused Goodell to reach these conclusions? If the league has its way, we will never know. If we ever do know, it’s not just Snyder who will have to worry about being forced to sell — it’s Goodell who will have to worry about being forced out, like in 2014 after the Ray Rice fiasco.

The league justifies its anti-transparency position by citing the promise of confidentiality that was given to reluctant witnesses. That’s a convenient, and bogus, excuse. Information can be shared without individuals being named. Also, with no transparency about who does or doesn’t want transparency, it’s impossible to know whether and to what extent these fears of coming forward were truly an issue. All we know is that, for a relatively brief media conference call on Thursday, Lisa Friel available (not Beth Wilkinson or Goodell) filibustered through self-serving talking points that undoubtedly were crafted meticulously by NFL general counsel Jeff Pash.

Attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent numerous former employees of the team, have accused the league of protecting Snyder. It definitely is. But the league isn’t doing it because Snyder is particularly powerful (he isn’t) or particularly popular (he isn’t) or particularly respected (he isn’t) among his peers. They’re doing it, in my opinion, because other owners don’t want to be held to a similar standard if other situations like this emerge with other teams.

Remember when Panthers owner Jerry Richardson abruptly sold the team after stories surfaced of past confidential settlements directed at his workplace behavior? As explained by Mark Leibovich in Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times, a very real fear emerged that this was the tip of the iceberg. Some were surprised it took as long as it did for the chickens to roost in Washington. Although no other owners currently are embroiled in similar controversies, they don’t want to be. If those who would make accusations against other owners with other teams realize that the brass ring isn’t an eight-figure fine and a temporary timeout but a forced sale, they may be more likely to make accusations. (Or to settle those accusations confidentially for a major cash payment.)

Bottom line? The owners still run the league. And there may be other owners sitting in a lounge chair on the front porch of a glass house. Any stones thrown at Snyder eventually could be thrown right back at them.

Thus, in protecting Snyder, the NFL also has potentially protected any other owners who would be the next in line to be permanently canceled by the league, if that’s what had happened to Snyder.

28 responses to “By protecting Dan Snyder, the NFL potentially protected other owners

  1. So you’re saying that old men with a lot of money may have behaved in an inappropriate manner around some young, attractive women? Sorry, but you’re a little late to the party on this topic. Go back and read Skip Bayless’s book God’s Coach and learn what Tex Schramm, Clint Murchison, and others were doing in regards to the Cowboy Cheerleaders 50 years ago.

  2. Arrest, try and convict cheater Goodell.

    Once and for all. My goodness. Everything has an angle or agenda to it. He just can’t do the right thing.

  3. It’s hard for me to grasp how messed up some things are in the billion dollar industry of the NFL.
    Washington is the perfect example. They don’t even have a real nickname, and now they are being fined 10 million dollars because they allowed a sexist atmosphere to permeate.
    It’s just hard to fathom how these supposedly smart people can set themselves up for failure so often.

  4. After Richardson was pressured to leave, removing Snyder would open the door to removing other owners. We already know about the issues that the Colts, Browns and Patriots owners have had. There are probably other owners with skeletons in their closets.

    So yes, protecting Snyder is about protecting themselves.

  5. I’m generally approving of Goodell but this is a terrible look. It lumps himself and the rest of the league in with sleazy Snyder. He could at least release an executive summary listing the number of people affected, the types of actions that occurred, etc. The cover up makes me think there is something much larger at play here.

  6. Obviously. Goodell works for the owners. Any one of them could be next. Even if they, personally, weren’t doing anything inappropriate, it’s a safe bet that any given team has had incidents that could emerge.

  7. Very dangerous in a collective to discipline another person, it might be you next. The owners actions here are duplicitous and self serving.

  8. Blaming Goodell like he isn’t paid by each of the owners!

    Remember, he’s almost ‘cheap’ compared to players for the owners! Even at a whopping $40M/yr, that’s only $1.25M/team owner.

    And in the owners’ eyes, they are getting their monies worth.

  9. Until we decide that any of this is unacceptable I mean it’s nothing new we let our presidents get away with it we allow it to continue in the NFL because we keep spending our hard earned money on the NFL product and turn a blind eye to it iam guilty of this as well we have to do better

  10. The only reason Snyder allowed this investigation and changed the team name is because he wants a new stadium. The way to force a written report is for the municipalities and bankers who will finance said stadium to require a written report before they will lend him the money. Justification would be that they don’t want the info leaking out after they’ve already committed to break ground.

  11. The solution is simple. If we the fans do not feel the punishment was enough, all we have to do is boycott that team. Imagine 31 full stadiums this fall. Imagine no jersey and merchandise sales for the Washington team. Fortunately Baltimore is close, so NFL fans can still catch a game. Many fans have switched teams purely because they were fed up with on field performance. After decades of poor off field performance (and blatant disregard for human decency) maybe fans shouldn’t support the team anymore. I’m a Bears fan. If my team had a history riddled with racism and sexism, I’d be embarrassed to support them and pick a new team.

  12. Oh dear this does look like it has been handled extremely poorly.

    Daniel Snyder can’t run the WFT, so his Wife is doing it, come on credit us with some intelligence please.

    This could seriously come back to bite Roger Goddell (who i don’t mind) for not being dealt with appropriately.

  13. The idea that the NFL ordered an investigation but forbade a written report of the findings is just absurd. And this isn’t Goodell – this is the other owners saying that THEY don’t want their misdeeds in writing, either.

    Way to go NFL – stay classy.

  14. Washington fans lose. He’ll be there another 40 or 50 years. So that means more losing.

  15. Can’t stand and don’t respect Snyder, and don’t like Goodell; however, the WFT is a private business (as is the NFL) and employment matters are typically held and often legally required to remain confidential. There is no legal right for any of us to see the results of the investigation.

  16. jojomogir says:
    July 2, 2021 at 10:41 am
    The way to force a written report is for the municipalities and bankers who will finance said stadium to require a written report before they will lend him the money. Justification would be that they don’t want the info leaking out after they’ve already committed to break ground.
    —————————–

    Love this idea!

  17. Protect him from what ? Exactly what is he guilty of ? Hiring women because they are attractive ? Having an organization that makes comments about attractive women ? The guy is happily married and has broken ZERO laws ( unlike guys like Kraft that got caught in a massage parlor, or Irsay for drug use ). The NFL network has been far more guilty of violating women than that Snyder has ever been. How about you put out a story about Darren Sharper ? Heath Evans NFL network sexual harassment case ? McNabb same thing. Marshal Faulk. Eric Davis. How about Warren Sapp story on his Vegas escort escapade? The list goes on, and on, and on.
    Snyder is guilty of putting a lousy team on the field and that’s it.

  18. Protect him from what ? Exactly what is he guilty of ?

    ==========

    We don’t know, because that information is being withheld.

  19. Hmmm – the NFL is a consortium of owners of clubs, and this consortium is protecting one of its own. Imagine my surprise!

  20. The NFL will never release details that makes the League look bad. That has been their MO with Goodell as Commish. Its all about positive PR for the NFL. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what was going on based on the generic descriptions and wording

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