For months on end, the Washington Football team was under investigation for fostering a toxic work environment where employees were yelled at, embarrassed and berated, and where women were not treated like equal partners and respected coworkers.
Whether it was the glass staircase which was installed at the team facility for the purpose to seeing up the skirts of women as they came down the stairs.
Whether it was the constant lewd comments of long-time personnel executive, Alex Santos, who was fired by the team last summer, or rumors of very crude and crass behavior from a long-time radio man and communications executive, who was allowed to retire without consequences before the Washington Post released an article detailing some of the goings-on in Ashburn.
Many believed if there were ever a chance to get Daniel Snyder out of Washington as the team’s owner, this might be it. If there’s something salacious that came from the Beth Wilkinson (an attorney that led an investigation that interviewed over 150 people of interest) report, maybe, just maybe this could be the last straw for the NFL.
There were even rumors of Jeff Bezos possibly being interested in buying the team, which would make sense since Amazon’s second headquarters is in Northern Virginia; and since he also owns the Washington Post, it would only be right that he bought another iconic Washington staple, it’s beleaguered football franchise.
Not only did the league not decide to take ownership away from Dan Snyder, but he was allowed to borrow a ton of money to buy the other percentage of the team that he didn’t own before from his estranged investors, who had been vocal about not liking the direction of the franchise and wanted to sell their piece of the pie for months.
One of those investors was Fred Smith, a top CEO at Fed Ex, who threatened to remove their name from the stadium if the team didn’t change its name.
Despite upset investors, local fans who stopped showing up to games after years of losing and ineptitude, the long ballyhooed season ticket waiting list, which is no more, dragging his feet on changing the name, and several reports of sexual harassment and unbecoming behavior from the top down out at Ashburn.
The NFL decided that not only was Dan Snyder going to be able to stay in place as owner, but he was able to borrow money to buy the entire 100% stake in the franchise, get a slap on the wrist fine of 10 million dollars, and do a self-imposed hiatus away from the team where now Tanya Snyder, his wife, will be the face of ownership and do the day-to-day duties of team owner.
This isn’t accountability or showing people that the league has evolved. This was a group of 30 other owners (Green Bay isn’t owned by one person, rather it’s owned by the City of Green Bay), realizing that they have bones in their closet, as well, and they didn’t want to set a precedent of losing their team or being punished harshly for perhaps having the same kinds of issues at their franchise offices.
While Dan Snyder has been on his best behavior the last 12 months, in hiring Jason Wright to be the team president, building a Human Resources infrastructure, and hiring Julie Donaldson to replace Larry Michael, he still needs to be held accountable for the damage he’s done to this brand and the trauma caused by the toxic atmosphere that he was a large part of for the last 20 plus years.
The NFL whiffed badly on this opportunity to show the world what responsible corporate leadership and a healthy workplace looks like.
As a Washington Football fan, I hope that being embarrassed several times by salacious stories coming out about bad behavior in Ashburn, losing football support for most of the last 20 plus years, almost losing his team’s stadium sponsorship and millions of other dollars, and having to push his radio guy and head of pro personnel out of the door, maybe Dan Snyder has learned a lesson and will finally be the responsible and good local citizen that the DMV deserves; no thanks to NFL or Roger Goddell’s inaction upon receiving the Beth Wilkinson report, which wasn’t even published.