Minority partners of the NFL's Washington Football Team have been pressuring owner Daniel Snyder to sell his majority stake in the franchise amid severe tensions over multiple off-field controversies this offseason. But they aren't the only ones pushing for change at the very top of the organization. As outlined in a Wednesday Washington Post story on more turmoil within the front office, dozens of other former team employees have directly implicated Snyder in Washington's previously reported culture of sexual harassment.
Beth Reinhard, Dalton Bennett, Liz Clarke and Will Hobson of The Post cited interviews with more than 100 current and former employees, as well as a review of internal company records, in reporting that Snyder "has presided over an organization in which women say they have been marginalized, discriminated against and exploited." Snyder himself is at the center of two specific incidents alleged by team sources, in addition to general allegations that he "treated women like servants" in everyday operations.
The Post reports that Larry Michael, Washington's longtime team broadcaster and a senior vice president, directed the crew of a 2008 cheerleader photoshoot to compile lewd outtakes, including topless shots in "sharp focus" and moments where cheerleaders had bare breasts inadvertently exposed, for inclusion on a private video for Snyder. (Similar footage was allegedly used again in 2010, this time for a DVD private to an executive meeting.) Earlier in Snyder's tenure as owner, during a 2004 charity event, Snyder allegedly asked former cheerleader Tiffany Bacon Scourby to join his friend in a hotel room so they "could get to know each other better."
"I remember her saying, 'Daniel Snyder offered me the suite with one of his friends,'" former Washington cheerleader director Donald Wells told The Post. "She was more or less propositioned."
Scourby is among 12 former team employees who have enlisted attorney Lisa J. Banks, who specializes in civil rights, employment and sexual harassment law, while alleging the misconduct and specifically targeting Snyder's involvement.
"A workplace culture this toxic and pervasive, at the highest levels of the organization, simply cannot exist without the knowledge and encouragement of the owner," Banks told The Post, which also reported that many former team employees hope the NFL takes over Washington's own investigation into past conduct and culture in order to "ensure thorough scrutiny of Snyder's" actions.
The league announced later Wednesday that it "strongly condemns the unprofessional, disturbing and abhorrent behavior" alleged in the report but will continue to rely on the ongoing independent investigation into Washington's organization. The NFL has vowed to "take appropriate action" in the event Washington or anyone associated with the investigation fails to cooperate.
Snyder, who's vowed to remake Washington's culture on multiple occasions this offseason, has since responded to the allegations.
"The behavior described in the Washington Post's latest story has no place in our franchise, in our society," he said. "I take full responsibility for the culture of our organization ... I have admittedly been too hands-off as an owner and allowed others to have day-to-day control to the detriment of our organization. Going forward I am going to be more involved, and we have already made major changes in personnel, bringing in new leadership to drive cultural transformation on and off the field."
Snyder continued by adamantly denying the details of The Post's reporting.
"The Washington Post article reads like a 'hit job' relying on unnamed sources and allegations that are largely 10 to 20 years old," he said. "We believe these videos to be unauthorized or fraudulent ... (and this is) not a reflection of The Washington Football team today."
The Post's latest report on conduct inside Washington's organization comes just over a month after 15 women alleged a culture of sexual harassment in the building under Snyder's ownership. It also comes two years after The New York Times reported on ex-cheerleaders' dissatisfaction with alleged topless photoshoots and being "pimped out" to male sponsors and team suite holders.