Photo by Anders Krøgh Jørgensen (To find more of Jørgensen’s work, go to https://unsplash.com/@anders_kj1)
September 2nd, 2020
By Mufaddal Anis
Ever since I started following football, I’ve always appreciated Daniel Snyder’s inability to run the Washington Football Team franchise. His ineffectiveness as an owner made me so happy as an Eagles fan. No matter how bad the Eagles football team was at the time, they were always the better organization. But even being rivals, recent revelations about Snyder’s leadership have made it impossible to feel anything but outraged at the organization, and heartbroken for the women who were victim to it.
In mid-July, 15 former female employees and two female NFL reporters accused the Washington Football Team of sexual harassment and fostering a toxic culture for women. Of the five men accused, the three still on the club’s staff were fired or retired, while the other two had previously left the club. At this time Snyder was not one of the people accused of sexual harassment, but executive level employees of his were. Snyder also took the blame for an understaffed HR department, and for verbally attacking employees in public.¹ In response to these allegations, the Washington Football Team and Snyder tasked a third party to investigate them and the team culture. At the time, I thought that this would be enough for the NFL to finally force Snyder to sell, but nothing happened.
Now, a little over a month later, things have gotten worse for the team owner— and this time he is directly involved. When the first 17 women accused the Washington Football team of misconduct, they alluded to the fact that there were other women out there who were scared to come forward. Less than a week ago, 25 more came forward to join the charge, bringing the total up to 42 victims of harassment.
Let’s talk about some of the things these women had to go through at Snyder’s organization:
- Female interns were treated like “fresh meat to a pack of wolves.²”
- Video clips of nude cheerleaders were taken from a photoshoot to create a sort of perverted montage.
- Snyder himself approached a former Washington cheerleader at a charity event and tried to proposition her to one of his friends, saying he had a hotel room and they should “get to know each other better.³”
- And of course a toxic environment that, by all accounts, promoted a culture that was highly demeaning and obviously unsafe for women.
These are only the things we know about. There could be, and likely are, countless stories that have not yet broken about the organization’s horrific culture.
The question now is: what is the NFL going to do about it? Let’s be real here, the NFL never does anything proactively. They always wait and see what happens and then usually make an atrocious decision afterwards, and that’s just when athletes are the offenders. Their track record when it comes to owners is even worse. In 2017, when Bob McNair, then the Houston Texans’ owner, made racist remarks toward his own team, the incident was essentially ignored by the league authorities and McNair kept his franchise. In 2018, when Robert Kraft was arrested in Florida for two counts of solicitation, the NFL didn’t lift a finger. Instead, Kraft and his army of lawyers had video evidence thrown out and Kraft was acquitted. The only case that the NFL happened to get right was with Jerry Richardson, who was forced to sell the Carolina Panthers after he was accused of sexual harassment and using a racial slur.
Honestly, it’s a toss-up as to what will happen Daniel Snyder. He has been a plague to the league and to his own team, but he will never sell on his own, so it’s up to the NFL. On Monday, the NFL announced that they were taking over the Washington Football Team investigation, but despite this news I remain skeptical. Is the league going to do the right thing or not? I truly hope Snyder is forced to sell, but I’m not convinced that he will be. From where I’m sitting, it seems like an owner has to do at least two inhuman things for the league to take action, so maybe the 42 sexual assault allegations will only be considered strike one.