Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder remains under a microscope after direct allegations of sexual harassment were made against him by a former employee.
Earlier in February, Tiffani Johnston met with the U.S. House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee as part of a discussion surrounding a culture of sexual misconduct within the Washington franchise dating back to Snyder’s early days as owner.
Johnston claims that Snyder sexually harassed her during the woman’s employment with the organization. Her appearance also included testimony from five other women claiming widespread sexual misconduct within the organization.
We now have some more information on this courtesy of Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. It could potentially be game-changing.
“There is a sense among ownership that the time may have come for Daniel Snyder to move on.”Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio (February 13, 2022)
It was back in July of last year that the NFL fined Daniel Snyder and the Washington organization $10 million after conducting an investigation into allegations of widespread workplace misconduct. Said findings did not include Snyder being suspended or anything of that ilk.
However, it must be noted that the NFL refused to utilize a paper trail in its investigation as a way to avoid blow back — including from the government. At that point, Commissioner Roger Goodell and Co. did not envision hearings taking place on Capitol Hill regarding the allegations.
Could NFL force Daniel Snyder to sell Washington Commanders?
Florio’s report notes that the individual heading the investigation, attorney Beth Wilkinson, was not requested a written report of her findings by the NFL. If that had been the case, the recommendation from the league would have been for Snyder to be forced to sell the Commanders.
Now that there’s more information coming out in a public forum, the league must look at the optics. That’s no more true than when discussing the aforementioned conversation with the U.S. House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee.
“Former Washington cheerleader and director of marketing, Melanie Coburn, backed up these allegations. She claims that the videos were ‘secretly made’ as ‘essentially soft-porn video, soundtracked to Daniel Snyder’s favorite bands.’ In the discussion with the committee, Coburn alleges she was invited to sleep at the owner’s home in Colorado after a drunken ‘awards trip’ dinner. She was allegedly asked to stay in the basement ‘because the men had invited prostitutes back.’”Sportsnaut report (February 3, 2022)
There is some precedent here. It was back in 2017 that allegations of workplace misconduct were levied in the direction of then-Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. He was forced to sell the team to David Tepper just a few months later.
Remember, the NFL announced earlier this month that the league was going to conduct its own investigation into the matter after Washington said it was going to contract an outside firm to investigate allegations against Daniel Snyder.
“We’ll do an investigation. We’ve said from Day One that we will look into this. … I do not see any way a team can do its own investigation of itself. That’s something we would do and we would do with an outside expert that would help us come to the conclusion of what the facts were, what truly happened, so we can make the right decision from there. We’ll treat that seriously.”Roger Goodell on Daniel Snyder investigation (February 9, 2022)
As for Johnston and her reps, this announcement was met with optimism that said investigation would be fair and balance.
“Apparently the NFL also recognized how absurd it was to think Dan Snyder could investigate himself,” Johnston’s attorney, Lisa Banks, said in a statement. “We await communication from the NFL about whether it intends to undertake this investigation independently, and without any common interest agreement with Snyder. If the investigation is truly independent, and the NFL commits to make the findings public, my clients will be happy to participate.”
Right now, we’re in wait-and-see mode. But it would not be a surprise if Snyder is in fact forced to sell the Washington Commanders.
It’s all about optics for the NFL. And in reality, things are not looking great for the league from a PR standpoint. That includes allegations of systemic racism from former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores when it comes to the interview process for head coaches and general managers around the NFL.