As Washington prepares to change its long beleaguered and demeaning team name, the new revelations of a toxic work environment expose a deeper issue.
The Redskins operate as a hegemony over its employees.
— KAPTAIN (@Bzz_Lightyear) July 16, 2020
So far, fifteen women who previously worked for Washington’s NFL organization have alleged sexual harassment and verbal abuse. The allegations are against former scouts and members of owner Daniel Snyder’s inner circle, according to The Washington Post.
The fact that members of owner Dan Snyder’s closest circle committed these atrocities, while Snyder defended and intended to keep a racist name alive and well, is troubling to say the least.
It is anathema twice and it seems the organization is now going through a double reckoning.
The accused are former director of pro personnel Alex Santos and former assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II, as well as longtime radio play-by-play announcer and senior vice president Larry Michael.
Not surprisingly, all three departed the organization within the past week.
— Nest Sports (@nestsports1933) July 16, 2020
In addition, former president of business operations Dennis Greene and former chief operating officer Mitch Gershman were also named.
There are no allegations against Snyder currently or former general manager Bruce Allen. However, the NFL is involved and needs to insure public confidence as it fights a league war on two fronts: systemic racism and the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“These matters as reported are serious, disturbing and contrary to the NFL’s values,” said the NFL in a statement released Friday morning.
“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.”
A Public Reckoning
Dan Snyder has been quiet, issuing no personal statement about the allegations. However, the team did issue a statement in an attempt to quell the noise.
“The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously,” the team said in a statement to the Post. “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.”
"With the name retired, we have finally fixed the biggest problem with the Redskins organization!"
Dan Snyder: pic.twitter.com/avKkbUPKdn
— offensiveNFLmemes (@offensivenflmem) July 16, 2020
New head coach, Ron Rivera was hired on New Year’s Day and given control of football operations. He said to The Washington Post that he was here to clean up the virtual football swamp in Washington.
“Biggest thing is that we have to move forward from this and make sure everybody understands we have policies that we will follow and that we have an open door policy with no retribution,” Rivera said. “Plus my daughter works for the team and I sure as hell am not going to allow any of this!”
Oop! Ron Rivera is putting little Rivera spies in the game to keep the tea spilling. Nice move, Ron Ron!
But there is a lot of spillage to contain.
From 2006 to as late as 2019, there have been allegations of sexual harassment and toxic workplace culture. All but one of the 15 women have signed nondisclosure agreements with the team.
But the incidents go from bad to worse with Alex Santos, accused by six former employees and two reporters, of commenting about their bodies and making unwelcome advances.
Richard Mann II sent text messages to coworkers discussing whether an employee had undergone breast enhancement surgery or not.
Dan Snyder at the breakfast table with his wife pic.twitter.com/cRKxrvArNZ
— The Rickest Rick (@Buizness47) July 16, 2020
Seven former employees alleged that Larry Michael routinely spoke about the physical appearance of female colleagues in a sexual and disparaging manner. He even had a Trump meets Billy Bush gaffe when a “hot mic” caught him making a comment about a college-aged intern in 2018.
Former president of business operations, Dennis Greene actually sold access to Washington’s cheerleaders. Reports even included attendance to a 2013 calendar photo shoot in Costa Rica and encouraging members of the sales staff to wear revealing clothing and flirt with suite holders.
Greene must have thought that the organization was more Only Fans than football.
Emily Applegate is the only former Washington female employee named in the Post report. She detailed the verbal abuse delivered to her by former chief operating officer Mitch Gershman. He verbally abused her over minor workplace issues and also would compliment her body.
The fact the Redskins wouldn't deny the allegations and pull the non disclosure agreement for victims to speak out, says all you need to hear about owner Daniel Snyder #redskinsscandal pic.twitter.com/FnxdAQGD2P
— Nick Volturo (@NickVolturo) July 16, 2020
“I barely even remember who she is,” Gershman, who left the team in 2015, told the Post. “I thought the Redskins was a great place to work. … I would apologize to anyone who thought that I was verbally abusive.”
The team has already was on the defensive after it was announced that three minority shareholders are seeking to sell their interests in the team.
However, now the team has hired D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson of Wilkinson Walsh LLP to review the organization’s protocols, including its culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct.
Wilkinson is no stranger to football having represented the NFL in a suit challenging the league’s Sunday Ticket Package and also has successfully represented the NCAA and Major League Baseball in class-action suits.
She also assisted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process in addressing allegations of sexual misconduct. The fact the team hired a woman to do the job is great PR and a probable attempt at rectification.
reporters: “dan snyder news is huge. lawyers involved, he could be forced out. absolutely insanity”
people: what he do?
— Patrick ❌🧢🍜 (@patrickadawson1) July 16, 2020
Now that the team will be retiring its nickname and logo after completing a thorough review, shouldn’t Dan Snyder go along with it? These accusations didn’t include him personally but these were his boys.
C’mon son, the complicity meter is on hot and Snyder’s history with the name alone is troubling.
Couple that with the fact that the franchise hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1992. That’s the year P.M. Dawn came out with “I’d Die Without You” on the Boomerang soundtrack and Billy Ray Cyrus dropped “Achy Breaky Heart”.
Stubbornness probably won’t give way to Synder conceding defeat and selling the team, however, if Donald Sterling is the barometer for how to get an owner out of the big chair, Snyder better hope nothing desparaging ever comes out about him personally.
However, if he really loved the team, city, and fans, he would bow out gracefully and let in a new air of inclusion into a tired franchise drenched in toxic masculinity.