Football Team

Richardson case shows NFL's high bar for punishing owners

Football Team

Another bombshell report regarding the Washington Football Team and owner Dan Snyder was released by the Washington Post Wednesday, detailing several accusations of sexual misconduct within the organization. Snyder has denied those claims

This comes on the heels of a story published in July, where 14 former team employees claimed sexual harassment by various executives throughout Snyder's tenure as owner of the franchise. 

While the NFL condemned the alleged behavior reported by the Post, the league will not launch its own investigation in Washington's front office. Instead, it will cooperate with the independent investigation Snyder launched into his team's workplace culture following the initial Washington Post story. 

Such news came as a disappointment to those seeking accountability for the franchise's actions and some who want the league to force Snyder to sell the team. As one of the reporters on both stories, Will Hobson, explained to the Sports Junkies Thursday, it's not easy for the league to step in like that. 

"Anyone who's been reporting NFL for a while will tell you there's a really high bar for the league office to get involved in taking over an investigation of a team's workplace and punishing an owner or as some folks have talked about, forcing an owner to sell. [The NFL] has just set a really high bar for that."

 

In 2017, it was reported that at least four former Panthers employees had received monetary settlements due to inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by then-owner Jerry Richardson. The NFL took over the investigation and the result was Richardson's eventual sale of the team to David Tepper for $2.2 billion. However, the league did not force him to do that. 

"In the Jerry Richardson case, the league took over that investigation because it was primarily about allegations about Richardson's conduct," Hobson said. "However, the league didn't force Jerry to sell [the Panthers]. The reporting around indicated that he was in his 80's and was ready to cash out at that point anyway."

The allegations in the Washington Post stories are not specifically directed at Snyder, rather the employees he brought in to run his organization. So while it isn't a comparable situation to Richardson's, Hobson believes the victims would argue Snyder should bear part of the blame. 

"An NFL front office is not that big of an organization, it's like 150-200 full-time staffers, relatively small office space," Hobson said. "The defense of, 'I was just an absentee landlord,' I think a lot of these women would say well then it's still your fault. If you run a company where this kind of stuff goes on, on a daily basis and your defense is 'I didn't know' then that doesn't speak well to your management of the organization."

The independent investigation is still ongoing as both of Snyder's recent hires, team president Jason Wright and senior VP of media Julie Donaldson, have each addressed the allegations against the franchise. All the while, Snyder released his own statement regarding the matter, saying the Post's story reads like a "hit job."