The Slatest

Washington’s NFL Team Is an Abomination

Snyder stands with his arms crossed on the field.
Team owner Daniel Snyder. Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Post added new data points Thursday to the growing corpus of horror stories revealing the toxic mess Daniel Snyder has presided over at Washington’s NFL team. The franchise’s hometown paper cited the complaints of more than a dozen women who painted a picture of rampaging sexual harassment in the team’s front office under Snyder, who took over the franchise in 1999. In addition to tales of brazen sexual harassment, there were also instances of generalized bullying and verbal abuse, including one alleged instance from Snyder himself. The news reconfirming that the team is a basket case comes on the heels of reports that the three minority owners who have a 40 percent stake in the club—Robert Rothman, CEO of the private investment company Black Diamond Capital; Dwight Schar, head of the nation’s fifth-largest home builder; and Frederick Smith, FedEx founder and chairman—are actively seeking to divest from the franchise, in part because of the team’s direction under Snyder. And then, of course, there’s the team’s name.

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The Post article outlined instances where team executives openly critiqued young female employees’ appearance—employees who were under constant sexual pursuit by team executives. “I was propositioned basically every day at training camp,” a female former employee told the Post. One former female employee recounted meeting another colleague in the bathroom during their lunch breaks to cry. A female sports reporter was sexually harassed by a team executive. Female employees were used as sexual props at events for high-rolling corporate luxury box owners. None of this is all that surprising, of course. This is the same franchise that used its cheerleaders as escorts. “I have never been in a more hostile, manipulative, passive-aggressive environment … and I worked in politics,” Julia Payne, a former Clinton administration official who made a pitstop at the team in 2003, told the Post.

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And to think, we might have heard more, but many of the women interviewed were constrained by nondisclosure agreements signed upon their departure—agreements the team declined to lift. Before the story’s publication Thursday, the team fired two front office officials: Alex Santos, the team’s director of pro personnel, and his assistant director Richard Mann II. In addition, Snyder’s hand-picked team radio voice Larry Michael, who also served as senior vice president in charge of content, abruptly retired. The team did not comment on Michael’s 16-year tenure. All three were implicated in the Post’s reporting.

Neither Snyder nor the organization he built in his likeness over the past two decades had much to say about the latest revelations other than to say it had hired the law firm Wilkinson Walsh “to conduct a thorough independent review of this entire matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future.” That sounds nice or like the right thing to say or do, but we’re beyond that now. This isn’t a rescue mission anymore—it’s a recovery mission.

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