In a shocking report from the Washington Post that hit the news cycle on Thursday, fifteen women who had previously worked for Washington’s NFL organization have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse by members of team owner Daniel Snyder’s inner circle and former team scouts.
Former director of pro personnel Alex Santos and former assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II, as well as longtime radio play-by-play announcer and senior vice president Larry Michael, were among the names of those accused by misconduct, and all departed the organization in the past week.
While there are no allegations against Snyder or former general manager Bruce Allen, who was fired following the 2019 season, former president of business operations Dennis Greene and former chief operating officer Mitch Gershman, who, along with Michael, were considered part of Snyder’s “inner circle” and named in the Washington Post’s report.
“These matters as reported are serious, disturbing and contrary to the NFL’s values,” the NFL said in a statement released Friday morning (h/t ESPN). “Everyone in the NFL has the right to work in an environment free from any and all forms of harassment. Washington has engaged outside counsel to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations. The club has pledged that it will give its full cooperation to the investigator and we expect the club and all employees to do so. We will meet with the attorneys upon the conclusion of their investigation and take any action based on the findings.”
“The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously,” the team said in a statement to the Post. “While we do not speak to specific employee situations publicly, when new allegations of conduct are brought forward that are contrary to these policies, we address them promptly.”
The Washington NFL team, which is in the process of finding a new name for the franchise, hired Ron Rivera as their new head coach this offseason.
“Biggest thing is that we have to move forward from this and make sure everybody understands we have policies that we will follow and that we have an open door policy with no retribution,” Rivera said, according to ESPN’s John Keim. “Plus my daughter works for the team and I sure as hell am not going to allow any of this!”
The report details allegations of sexual harassment and toxic workplace culture outlined from 2009 to 2019, with all but 15 women speaking to the Post on the condition of anonymity as they signed non disclosure agreements with the team.
Six former employees and two reporters accused Santos of commenting about their bodies and making unwelcome overtures.
Mann shared with a female employee his conversation with coworkers about whether she had undergone breast enhancement surgery, per the report.
Greene resigned in May 2018 after reports surfaces that he had sold access to team cheerleaders, including attendance at a 2013 calendar shoot in Costa Rica, but he is accused of having encouraged members of the sales staff to wear revealing clothing and flirt with suiteholders.
Emily Applegate, the only former Washington female employee named said that Gershman verbally abused her over minor workplace issues and also complimented her body.
Several former employees alleged that Michel routinely spoke about the physical appearance of female colleagues in a sexual and disparaging manner, including a college-aged intern in a comment that was caught on a “hot mic” in 2018.
The organization has hired D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson of Wilkinson Walsh LLP to review the organization’s protocols, including its culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct.
Additionally, minority shareholders have hired the investment bank Moag & Co. to vet buyers, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Sports is not the only industry seeing cases pop up as people are speaking out about misconduct, racism, and sexual harassment, as many in the streaming and gaming industry have been doing so as well, making streamer news and streaming news headlines.
A few weeks ago, a movement #TwitchBlackOut brought to light misconduct and harassment going on from Twitch and many popular Twitch streamers, which rocked the industry and Twitch news headlines as well.