NFL accuses Washington Commanders of impeding Congressional probe

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Daniel Snyder is pushing his luck.

The NFL went easy on the owner of the Washington Commanders in July, and the league has gone to great lengths to keep any evidence regarding years of workplace misconduct within his football operation hidden. The scheme was working.

Then, after someone leaked a handful of emails sent by Jon Gruden to former Commanders executive Bruce Allen, cries for transparency sparked a Congressional investigation. Which prompted a former team employee who hadn’t cooperated with the NFL’s investigation to tell her story to Congress last week. Which has triggered a new investigation of Snyder. And which has caused the NFL to accuse Snyder’s team of impeding the Congressional probe.

Via the Washington Post, the NFL has sent a letter to the committee conducting the investigation accusing the team of keeping documents from being produced. The situation traces to a third-party vendor who has custody of the documents generated by attorney Beth Wilkinson’s 10-month investigation.

“That vendor refused to provide the NFL or even [the law firm of] Wilkinson Stekloff with access to the documents unless the team consented because of its concern that it could be sued by the team or its owner,” the league’s attorneys wrote in a letter obtained by the Post. “The NFL promptly directed the team to provide its consent to the vendor, but the team repeatedly has refused to do so.”

Read that last sentence again. The NFL has issued a directive to the Washington Commanders. And the Washington Commanders have refused to comply with it. Repeatedly.

According to the letter from the league, the Commanders have “insisted that [they] will only authorize the vendor to release those documents to the team, so that the team’s counsel can review the documents for privilege first . . . before deciding unilaterally which documents it will provide to the NFL for production to the Committee.” The league told the committee that this approaches “unacceptable” because it “it would prevent the NFL from ensuring that it can produce all responsive, non-privileged documents to the committee and would delay our production decisions.”

This entire problem traces to the fact that Wilkinson was hired not to investigate the situation with the goal of making any findings publicly known but with the express objective of helping the team (and later the league) limit liability to current or former employees. The legal privileges that are preventing the production of documents flow directly from the wagon-circling nature of Wilkinson’s investigation.

Now, the privileges become part of the shell game aimed at continuing to hide information from Congress and, in turn, from the public. The problem for the team is that the NFL no longer wants to play games, and that the NFL is willing to accuse the team of playing games.

At some point, Snyder needs to worry less about Congress and more about the league. At some point, the desire to help Snyder (which frankly comes from a desire by other owners to avoid landing in a similar jackpot) will be outweighed by the desire to be done with him. The way things are going, it seems like it’s just a matter of time before the league tells him to get lost.

32 responses to “NFL accuses Washington Commanders of impeding Congressional probe

  1. AS he should. That team is HIS property.

    It’s bad enough he was muscled into changing the name . Now some lawyers wanna run roughshod through his building in an attempt to strong arm him into selling.

  2. Questions at Goodell’s press conference yesterday turned up the heat. His first priority is always to protect the shield. The Snyders are in big trouble.

  3. Sounds like Goodell is distancing “the nfl” from the Washington commanders. This typically happens when it’s clear the u know what is going to hit the fan. And I guess it helps keep Congress off the nfl’s back and squarely on Snider’s back.

  4. NFL tried to help the Commanders out and now has to point the finger at them to avoid more scrutiny to the league.

  5. We have said the league should remove him and in the end this will happen. Looks good on the league and Snyder.

  6. The NFL is definitely hiding something much bigger! Maybe Mr Snyder did something much worse

  7. Please recall that the owner is at all times to be referred to as MR SNYDER. And that you are not to make eye contact with him!

  8. How does Goodell keep his job through all this? It’s true that he handles all their dirty work which is why he’s paid so handsomely, but he’s not doing a good job of it when Congress has to step in. So, again I ask, when do the owners get sick of him not doing his job well enough and replace him? Soon, would be good.

  9. Please NFL, help us get rid of Snyder. Our fan base has dwindled, we hate Dan, we hate the new name and many fans are hanging on by a thread supporting this once proud franchise. We have Bezos who owns the Washington Post and has set up roots in DMV, force out Dan!!!!

  10. If the players union was a little stronger and a coaches union was formed, perhaps they could apply enough pressure on the league to stop it from proving “The Peter Principle”. This is all self inflicted, from the owners choices of Commissioners, to their approval and consent of who gets into the exclusive club of NFL ownership. The level of grotesque and repeated incompetence would be laughable if it didn’t involve so much cultural influence and staggering wealth.

  11. I think this is more about disassociating the NFL from the Washington Football team than that it is about holding the Washington Football team accountable.

  12. Being a bad team owner should be enough for the NFL to force a sale. That is one of the best markets for a team the cash flowing to buy influence is crazy. The horrible run teams bring the whole league down. Now when you combine that with just horrible humans treating people like they have over and over just force the sale already.

  13. Snyder won’t go quietly. He will leave a trail of scorched earth behind him on his at out. This is going to get ugly.

  14. Thank you Congress for holding the source of a near 25 year plague on the city and fans accountable. Finally the NFL is pushed to not abet.

  15. Simply a matter of time, league will investigate and tell the women they will maintain anonymity so the report will be made public and bye bye Dan, hello to the new owner Jeff Bezos
    Unless the rest of the nfl ownership is too intimidated by his wealth?

  16. Hopefully the new owner of the Washington football team will dump the “Commanders” nickname and change it to something that their fans like.

  17. Kinda seems like NFL was working with Washington on keeping things hidden at the outset. But now that the heat is being turned up they are throwing Snyder under the bus, backing over him and then driving forward again. Which, honestly, I’m fine with. But it does seem a lot like “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

  18. If you thought people were bitter about Gruden being collateral damage…you ain’t seen nothin yet!

  19. As much as many dislike Danny-boy nothing is going to happen guys. This is a 13 year old, non-rape accusation with nothing but hear-say as evidence. Comparatively, owners have done far worse and have remained owners. Jim Irsay – Kimberly Wundrum OD’ed in his car with drug dealer, drugs adn 40K in cash- still the owner of the Colts Jim Haslam – Flying J corp federally indicted for 56 Mill in Fraud. Still the owner of Browns Edward DeBartolo, Jr. – Charged with Felony gambling fraud / bribery. Ended up agreeing to charges of failing to report a felony (rich people) – Still Principle of 49ers and passed on to his family. The truth is this is essentially flirting in the workplace. In a country where 50% of couples meet in the workplace, its not really much to get “Kicked out of the NFL for”. And for everyone who says Jerry Richardson. He didnt want to fight. He took the money and ran. Doubling his fortune in a few years from a $1.1B purchase price to a $2.2B sale. Just facts people.

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