Will the secret factual findings from the WFT investigation stay hidden?

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Football Team
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Four days ago, at the outset of the annual low tide for the NFL’s news cycle, the league managed to drop its conclusions regarding the investigation of the Washington Football Team. To protect its strategic decision to keep any and all details regarding the things learned by attorney Beth Wilkinson through interviews of more than 150 people over the course of a probe that racked up, we’re told, upwards of $7 million in legal fees, the NFL didn’t ask Wilkinson to prepare a written report of her findings.

Of all the stunning things about the NFL’s handling of the case, the decision to not ask Wilkinson to reduce the outcome of her efforts to writing becomes the most glaring and confounding. Lawyers who are commissioned to conduct major investigations always cap their efforts with a written report of their findings.

Well, almost always.

But even without a written report, the details of Wilkinson’s investigation exist somewhere. Surely, she and her staff didn’t refrain from taking notes during the many interviews. Possibly, Wilkinson’s team recorded some of the interviews, with audio and perhaps even video. Undoubtedly, communications among and between investigators and/or league officials became memorialized in emails, memos, text messages and the like, containing thoughts, impressions, conclusions, and other assessments of the accusations and their actual or perceived credibility.

So what happens with all that stuff? Lawyers don’t conduct investigations, report their findings verbally, and then promptly delete the materials from which the findings emerged. Maybe the lawyer in this case did just that, if directed to do so by those who commissioned the investigation, all under the clunky guise of ensuring full and complete confidentiality for those who came forward to speak but ultimately with the goal of hiding the truth.

That would be highly unlikely. With potential litigation against the team looming, Wilkinson risks a whole host of problems if she creates evidence that would support such claims and then expunges it. (Presumably, lawyers Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent more than 40 former employees of the team, have advised Wilkinson in writing to preserve the evidence.)

Assuming the evidence still exists, how would any of it come to light? If/when former employees file lawsuits — and if those lawsuits don’t spark settlements before the facts come to light (e.g., the concussion cases) — the findings and the impressions will be revealed, in some form or fashion up to and including in open court. But litigation isn’t the only way to get to the bottom of what Wilkinson found and when/how she found it. If the situation attracts the attention of Congress, a committee hearing could be convened, with subpoenas issued and questions asked in a public setting. Likewise, an ambitious and creative prosecutor could impanel a grand jury and explore whether and to what extent the conduct that resulted in the general findings from Commissioner Roger Goodell rises to the level of one or more violations of applicable criminal laws.

Remember, Goodell concluded “that for many years the workplace environment at the Washington Football Team, both generally and particularly for women, was highly unprofessional,” 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,” that “[o]wnership and senior management paid little or no attention to these issues,” and that “senior executives engaged in inappropriate conduct themselves, including use of demeaning language and public embarrassment.”

What’s the line between “highly unprofessional” behavior, “bullying and intimidation,” a culture of “fear,” sexual harassment, demeaning language, public embarrassment and criminal liability? Without knowing the facts, it’s impossible to know.

Thus, whether through civil litigation, Congressional curiosity, criminal prosecution, or some combination of the three, the league’s effort to keep the facts of the WFT investigation secret may not yet have succeeded. Unless, of course, someone already has ordered the deletion of the various forms of evidence containing the many facts that Beth Wilkinson and her team collected.

14 responses to “Will the secret factual findings from the WFT investigation stay hidden?

  1. Goodell thinks he can do whatever he wants because of their Article 46 argument and federal court victory when framing Brady to steal draft picks.

    If anyone always wondered why Goodell would so brazenly cheat and act like it’s so normal, it’s because he told us that one day in federal court in 2016 during their appeal.

    People were warned how dangerous that ruling was after paying off the 2 judges.

    To actually testify that you can do whatever you want, including stealing and cheating, even if against US law, is simply mindnumbing.

    But, here we are…Another NFL season is coming with Goodell’a funny business right in tow.

  2. This has the potential to turn into a major unforced error for the league and WFT as far as PR and opening themselves up on numerous fronts to liability, criticism, and investigations by entities they wish to avoid at all costs.

  3. Goodell is paid to protect the shield. I don’t understand why this is so hard to believe with the media. The guy is doing his job, regardless if any of us agree with his reasoning.

  4. Goodell finally fell off the tightrope he’s been walking . Thinking harsh words and a slap on the back whoops meant wrist was going to make this go away is the beginning of the end for King Roger . Washington DC with an election looming isn’t going to stand by and allow the investigation to remain off the record . If you thought the fireworks at the Capitol yesterday were huge wait until Goodell is called to testify in front of attention seeking politicians with an election looming . Going to be satisfying for Goodell to finally be held accountable for running the NFL like an organized crime syndicate .

  5. I dont understand the scrutiny over Snyder and Goodell in this matter, where or where was the OUTRAGE with Robert Kraft and his massage parlor and possible sex trafficking incident which didnt even get a look by the media and the NFL even though the legal case was thrown out due to a technicality Kraft still violated the NFL’s conduct policy and caused “damage to the shield”, In the past even if an incident didnt result in a legal situation, it was still looked at by the NFL, but I guess that shows the difference between the power of Kraft and favortism of the Patriots and the media/NFL versus Snyder.

  6. Rather than WFT, I propose that a more fitting abbreviation for the Washington Football Team is “WTF.”

  7. I don’t see any hysteria. We’re talking about a football team. Not a national leader, or some place where character is real important. And besides, Americans don’t seem too concerned. Certain issues don’t move the needle like other issues. I mean, if someone speaks out on behalf of black people being discriminated against, there’s going to be a big uproar. If someone is accused, or even proven guilty of sexual misconduct against women, it doesn’t seem to get too many of us riled up. So if you think there’s an issue here, I’d say you’re going to have to take it up with the American people, not the NFL. We’re the ones who buy tickets and support the NFL, and we don’t seem to care. So this is an American issue, nit an NFL issue. It would be nice if Roger Goodell could solve all our nation’s problems, but that’s not his job. And banging on his door certainly isn’t solving anything.

  8. The NFL will release some PSA bullcrap sponsored by the “official abused woman’s shelter of the NFL”. That should fix all this needless haggling over actually wanting to get to the truth.

  9. charliecharger says:
    July 5, 2021 at 11:14 am
    I don’t see any hysteria. We’re talking about a football team. Not a national leader, or some place where character is real important. And besides, Americans don’t seem too concerned. Certain issues don’t move the needle like other issues. I mean, if someone speaks out on behalf of black people being discriminated against, there’s going to be a big uproar. If someone is accused, or even proven guilty of sexual misconduct against women, it doesn’t seem to get too many of us riled up. So if you think there’s an issue here, I’d say you’re going to have to take it up with the American people, not the NFL. We’re the ones who buy tickets and support the NFL, and we don’t seem to care. So this is an American issue, nit an NFL issue. It would be nice if Roger Goodell could solve all our nation’s problems, but that’s not his job. And banging on his door certainly isn’t solving anything.

    1 1 Rate This

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    You say some really strange things. Pretending Goodell and any person in the league is above the law is the exact problem yet you actl like they shoud be above the law.

  10. texskin81 says:
    July 5, 2021 at 10:48 am
    I dont understand the scrutiny over Snyder and Goodell in this matter, where or where was the OUTRAGE with Robert Kraft and his massage parlor and possible sex trafficking incident which didnt even get a look by the media and the NFL even though the legal case was thrown out due to a technicality Kraft still violated the NFL’s conduct policy and caused “damage to the shield”, In the past even if an incident didnt result in a legal situation, it was still looked at by the NFL, but I guess that shows the difference between the power of Kraft and favortism of the Patriots and the media/NFL versus Snyder.
    ———————————————————————————————-
    This organization sexually harassed and bullied their employees creating a toxic work environment for YEARS !!! To compare that to what Kraft did is ridiculous . Many people had their lives and careers negatively impacted and Snyder stood by and let it happen . So to sum up Snyder is $10M and an indefinite suspension worth of guilty and Goodell thinks he’s going to keep the details of Snyder’s disgusting actions to himself like he’s done so often in the past. Before this is over thinking we may see Goodell kicked to the curb and Snyder selling the No – Names . Would be the best possible outcome for all those tired of people like Snyder and Goodell thinking money and power puts them above the law .

  11. I think the NFL was after them to change the football name from the Redskins. When this came up Snyder agreed to do it if the NFL backed off and kept things quiet.

  12. Deflategate gets a 243 page report for .002 lbs of pressure, but sexual harassment, bullying, intimidation investigation is not even worthy of an executive summary? Perhaps there’s more they don’t want getting out, like other prominent people not within the WFT family.

  13. Will anybody in the media callout Beth Wilkinson and Tanya Snyder for what they are:
    Modern day Madames who willingly and intentionally coverup the mistreatment of the females under their care in exchange for money.

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