During much of last week, Washington sports fans were teased with rumors of a blockbuster scandal involving our football team that the Washington Post was getting ready to publish. The rumors included orgies, a Jeffrey Epstein connection, serious misconduct by a former coach, and more.
The scandal turned out to be low to mid-level grade sexual harassment by certain team employees, all of whom were already gone or were let go last week. There was no allegation that owner Daniel Snyder, former team president Bruce Allen, or former coach Jay Gruden harassed anyone, or that they knew harassment was occurring. And, importantly for hard core fans, there were no allegations of misconduct against Doug Williams or any other Redskins legend employed by the team.
Viewed individually, the allegations that appear in the Washington Post’s story don’t rise to the level of severe misconduct. A female reporter for the The Athletic received unwelcome advances from the director of pro personnel, who also pinched her and made a crude comment about her body. She rebuffed him. He later apologized and didn’t bother her again.
Our veteran play-by-play man, also a team executive, allegedly liked to discuss the physical appearance of female colleagues in sexual and disparaging overtones around the office. Once he made such a comment on the air when he thought his mic was dead. Unfortunately, it was live.
A female sales employee was told told to wear a tight dress for a meeting with clients, “so the men in the room have something to look at.” A wealthy suiteholder allegedly grabbed one of her colleague’s backside during a game.
And so on.
Collectively, these incidents strongly suggest that Redskins Park (or whatever they are going to call it now) was a hostile work environment for female employees, or at least some of them. That’s a serious matter — no woman should have to work in a climate like the one described by the Post — and, depending on the evidence, possibly a violation of the law.
It’s unfortunate that so much salacious speculation about the impending scandal preceded the Post’s story. I suspect that many fans were almost relieved that the scandal turned out to be “only” about sexual harassment by mid-level managers.
We shouldn’t be relieved. However, there should be a limit to our outrage. Sexual harassment occurs in many large organizations. The best organizations find ways to make sure it doesn’t occur often and, certainly, that it never gets to the level of a hostile work environment.
The R*dskins fell short of this standard. However, the owner did not participate in the harassment and, crucially, once he learned about the problem, he cleaned house. He has also hired the ubiquitous Beth Wilkinson to investigate. This might mean additional firings depending on what her firm discovers, and should mean new procedures to prevent or limit future incidents of harassment.
Nonetheless, Jerry Brewer, the Post’s weak excuse for a sports columnist, contends that the NFL should expel Snyder. It’s not going to happen.
Ousting Snyder would require the votes of 24 of the league’s 32 owners. But owners understand that they could find themselves in Snyder’s shoes — faced with very credible allegations that team employees with whom they have little or no interaction made inappropriate comments to women that were never called ownership’s attention. No owner wants to face the possibility of being ousted from the league in this scenario.
Nor should any owner be booted out on these facts. The punishment wouldn’t fit the crime, if any.
As I read Brewer’s attack piece, Snyder’s real offense is that he offends the columnist’s woke sensibilities. Brewer wants Snyder to be another victim of the cancel culture.
Like most fans of this football team, I wouldn’t mind seeing a new owner. But it would be grossly unfair for the league to snatch the team from Snyder.
Fortunately, it won’t. Things are a bit crazy right now, but not that insane.