Roger Goodell Defends Commanders Investigation, however Not Snyder

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stood by the league’s investigation into allegations of office misconduct on the Washington Commanders group at a congressional listening to on Wednesday, regardless of being challenged by Home members in regards to the NFL’s choice to not compel a written report of the findings or to come back down extra harshly on the Commanders’ proprietor, Daniel Snyder.

Hours after the Home Committee on Oversight and Reform launched a memo that mentioned Snyder had interfered within the investigation, Goodell examined that he believed Snyder had been held accountable via the league’s evaluation of a $10 million tremendous on the crew and having Snyder step away from the crew’s day-to-day operations for the previous yr.

Whereas Goodell lauded the Commanders for remodeling their group’s tradition within the wake of the investigation, together with an overhaul of their human-resources practices, he additionally mentioned he had not seen one other office within the NFL “wherever close to” what former staff alleged they skilled with the Commanders over a interval that ran from 2006 via 2019.

Snyder didn’t seem at Wednesday’s listening to. Consultant Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the committee, mentioned she would subpoena Snyder to look for a deposition subsequent week.

Goodell testified below oath for greater than two hours in entrance of the committee, which carried out an eight-month inquiry into how the Commanders and the NFL dealt with claims of rampant sexual harassment of the crew’s feminine staff. In a memo launched on Wednesday morning, Maloney detailed the committee’s findings, together with that Snyder sought to intrude with the league’s investigation of his group by directing intimidation of witnesses and launching a “shadow investigation” that yielded a 100-page file on those that had shared claims of harassment towards the Commanders.

Goodell mentioned the league would discover unacceptable and “not allow” any motion that might discourage individuals with data of violations from coming ahead. He added that, in August 2020, because the NFL took over the investigation which had begun below the Commanders’ oversight, the league informed the crew to not conduct its personal investigation.

All through his testimony, Goodell reiterated his protection of the league’s method, even within the face of Congress members’ questions that burrowed into the NFL’s dealing with of great claims of office violations, significantly his choice to maintain the investigation’s findings confidential.

Consultant Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, pushed again on Goodell’s assertion {that a} written report couldn’t be ready and launched for this investigation out of concern for the confidentiality of a number of the individuals interviewed. Raskin referred to the NFL’s 148-page report launched in 2014 relating to the Miami Dolphins’ bullying scandal wherein names and figuring out info of collaborating witnesses had been redacted, and requested the commissioner why the identical was not accomplished with the league’s report led by the lawyer Beth Wilkinson.

“Redaction does not at all times work in my world,” Goodell mentioned.

Later, Consultant Jackie Speier, Democrat of California, learn from a September 2020 engagement letter wherein the NFL appeared to decide to Wilkinson producing a written report of the investigation’s findings. Goodell mentioned the league determined a month later that the report could be delivered solely orally, an method that has been criticized by most of the individuals interviewed for the league-run investigation.

Goodell didn’t exit of his method to defend Snyder, who declined two requests to look at Wednesday’s listening to, citing a longstanding “Commanders-related enterprise battle.” The commissioner asserted that, because the crew proprietor, Snyder is accountable for his membership’s office atmosphere and mentioned he didn’t consider Snyder contemporaneously informed the league workplace {that a} crew worker had accused Snyder of sexually harassing and assaulting her in 2009 earlier than reaching a $1.6 million confidential settlement, as reported by the Washington Put up.

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A demoralizing tradition for ladies. After the 2014 Ray Rice scandal, the NFL stepped up its efforts to rent and promote girls. However greater than 30 former employees members interviewed by The Instances described a stifling company tradition that has left many ladies feeling pushed apart. Six attorneys common warned the league that it may face an investigation if it didn’t deal with the issue.

At one level, when Consultant Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, pressed Goodell on if he would take away Snyder as a crew proprietor, he at first demurred however then replied when she repeated her query: “I haven’t got the authority to take away him ,” Goodell mentioned.

Whereas Goodell cannot unilaterally take away Snyder, he may suggest that the remainder of the league’s house owners achieve this. Such a measure would require a vote by not less than 24 of the league’s 32 member golf equipment, and it’s anticipated that Snyder would vigorously struggle towards any such effort.

However two high-ranking officers at different groups mentioned that Snyder’s fellow house owners and different high executives had grown impatient with answering a continuing barrage of unflattering information in regards to the Commanders. The officers spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of the problems are nonetheless being investigated. One of many crew officers mentioned the NFL crew house owners deliberate to debate the second league inquiry — which is trying into a brand new allegation of sexual harassment towards Snyder in addition to claims of monetary malfeasance by the group — as soon as it’s accomplished.

A number of Republican members of Congress disagreed with the committee’s choice to give attention to the office tradition of an NFL crew. Maloney replied {that a} driving function in holding the listening to was to strengthen office protections for all staff and proposed two new items of laws, one which might prohibit using nondisclosure agreements, or NDAs, to hide office misconduct and require employers conducting investigations to share the end result with victims.

Goodell mentioned the NFL would work with lawmakers on such laws, although the league has not instructed groups to not use such agreements, however fairly has mentioned that NDAs can’t be used to stop staff from collaborating in a league investigation.

Ken Belson contributed reporting.

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