Roger Goodell acknowledges Commanders’ ‘unacceptable’ culture

Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder remained out of the country on Wednesday, for what his attorney called a “longstanding Commanders-related business conflict.”

Simultaneously, in a Capitol Hill hearing room, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell faced the House Oversight Committee to answer questions about the Commanders’ workplace culture that included sexual harassment and intimidation, former employees have testified.

“Rather than show up and take responsibility for his actions, he chose to skip town,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y., who chairs the committee. “Apparently, Mr. Snyder is in France, where he has docked his luxury yacht near a resort town. That should tell you just how much respect he has for women in the workplace.”

Prior to the hearing, the committee released a 29-page memorandum describing its investigation into the club, the NFL’s knowledge of team culture and the extent of Snyder’s involvement in “crating and fostering the Commanders’ toxic workplace.”

Here are five takeaways from the memorandum and Goodell’s opening statement.

Did Dan Snyder know about Commanders’ workplace culture?

Simply, yes.

One example from the memorandum: Former Washington chief operating officer David Pauken testified that after Snyder learned a member of the coaching staff groped a team employee, Snyder avoided action against the coach and directed the employee to “stay away from the coach.”

Another employee told the committee described a culture of “glorified drinking and womanizing.”

Daniel Snyder poses for photos during an event to unveil the NFL team’s new identity in February.

Snyder conducted shadow investigations into reporters, ex-team employees

The committee revealed that evidence obtained showed Snyder and his lawyers conducted shadow investigations into Washington Post reporters who exposed malpractice and former employees blowing the whistle on the organization.

That included a 100-slide PowerPoint dossier presenting the information about the journalists and former employees. Snyder also targeted the law firms representing the ex-employees, according to the memorandum.

Dan Snyder, Commanders attempted to intimidate witnesses

The NFL tapped attorney Beth Wilkinson and her law firm to conduct an investigation into workplace culture in July 2020. The league did not release the findings publicly, saying Wilkinson provided an oral report.

The NFL knew that Snyder’s lawyers had direct access to the NFL and Wilkinson’s investigation and used information, according to the committee’s findings. The former Commanders employees who spoke out said “Snyder’s use of private investigators intimidated them and discouraged them from participating in the Wilkinson Investigation.”

That intimidation also included an investment banker, John Moag, who represented the team’s minority owners as they tried to sell their stake in the team, per the committee.

Roger Goodell in March.

Roger Goodell in March.

NFL delayed findings of Beth Wilkinson’s investigation

The NFL was briefed on Wilkinson’s findings a total of 16 times with at least four written briefings. Those briefings took place between Aug. 26, 2020 and June 28, 2021.

Goodell was briefed twice, both orally – once on March 2, 2021 and again on April 26 of that year, according to the memorandum.

The NFL released the findings on July 1, 2020.

Wrote the Committee: “The evidence uncovered by the Committee casts doubt on the sufficiency of the NFL’s response to the Wilkinson Investigation findings and underscores the need for the League and the team to fully cooperate with the Committee’s investigation.”

Goodell’s opening statement said the NFL did not receive a written report “for compelling reasons” to protect confidentiality of employees, current and former.

Roger Goodell acknowledges ‘unprofessional’ ‘unacceptable’ workplace culture

Goodell mentioned the $ 10 million fine levied toward the Commanders and removal of Snyder from “day-to-day operations” of the club. He also touted the percentage of women hired across the league in 2021 and the NFL’s prioritization of “diversity, equity and inclusion.”

“We have been open and direct about the fact that the workplace culture at the Commanders was not only unprofessional, but toxic for far too long,” Goodell said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Commanders hearing: Roger Goodell acknowledges ‘unacceptable’ culture

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