Looking to Commanders' future difficult given Washington's past


During last week's event at FedEx Field that was centered on his franchise's total rebranding, Dan Snyder took to the podium and touched on the theme of moving forward, a message that many others associated with the organization embraced as well.

"Today's a big day for our team, our fans, a day in which we embark on a new chapter as the Washington Commanders," the owner said into a microphone on a stage that was assembled just outside of the stadium.

About 24 hours later, as six former Washington employees had an opportunity to speak into microphones of their own on Capitol Hill, it was quite evident that Snyder's hope for an instant refresh was foolish.

While the Commanders bear a new name, boast new logos and will wear new uniforms in the fall, those changes are merely cosmetic and unfortunately do nothing to cover up the team's allegedly sordid, off-field past — a past that was once again discussed in Thursday's roundtable held by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

There was former cheerleader Tiffani Johnston's story of a night with Snyder when, according to her, he first put his hand on her thigh in an unwanted advance and then later attempted to guide her into his limousine. Jason Friedman, an ex-Washington vice president of sales and customer service for more than 20 years, corroborated Johnson's claims in the form of a letter that was read by the committee's chairwoman.


Johnson wasn't the only person to make a new allegation toward Snyder on Thursday.

Melanie Coburn, another former cheerleader who also served as a marketing director, said that she was once part of a trip to Snyder's home in Aspen, Colo. that ended with her being told to go the house's downstairs area while prostitutes were invited to the upstairs portion of the property. 

Those remarks, along with other previously-reported-on stories, were punctuated by the five female employees stating that they had been individually harassed on upwards of hundreds of different occasions while working for Snyder's team — and that Snyder had to know what was unfolding, even though he's said before he was unaware of the widespread misconduct.

"He was involved in everything," Johnston said. "Every minor detail, every major detail of every single day at the office."

"Daniel Snyder should not be managing any human beings," Coburn added.

Members of the committee were ultimately split on just how helpful it could be toward holding Snyder (and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell) accountable for what's purportedly occurred during Snyder's lengthy ownership. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., did promise those who appeared at the Capitol Hill roundtable that their search for justice was only the beginning of a process Congress would be involved in. 

Should that prove to be true, then whatever happens with the Commanders on the field could be routinely overshadowed by whatever happened in the past two decades with the Redskins when the club's alleged toxic workplace took root.  

Since the Washington Post published multiple accounts in 2020 that investigated the "miserable" environment for women around the team, Snyder has expressed a desire to improve conditions and create a more diverse operation. 

"Real change has been made and employees of the Team have confirmed the vast improvement in Team culture over the past 18 months," Snyder said in a statement last week following the conclusion of the roundtable. 

Between those adjustments and Washington officially becoming the Commanders, Snyder wants the future to be the focus. It's a sentiment shared by his wife and co-owner, Tanya, who anticipates "paving the way for a new tradition as Washington Commanders," which is how she put it at FedEx Field last week.

For now, it's naive thinking. The franchise's old traditions of dominating the news cycle for unsavory reasons and constantly being scrutinized for the way it operates aren't going anywhere.

Snyder can wish for the safety of a "new chapter," but the women who were harmed in the work environment that existed under his watch aren't nearly as interested in turning the page.