Roger Goodell Defends Commanders Investigation, But Not Snyder

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell joins the league’s investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct at a congressional hearing at the Washington Commanders organization Wednesday, despite being challenged by House members about the NFL’s decision not to compile a written report of the findings or to come down more. Harshly on the Commanders’ Owner, Daniel Snyder.

Hours after the House Committee on Oversight and Reform released a memo that said Snyder had interfered in the investigation, Goodell testified that he believed Snyder had been held accountable through the league’s assessment of a $ 10 million fine and having Snyder step away. The team’s day-to-day operations for the past year.

While Goodell lauded the commanders for transforming their organization’s culture of wake up investigations, including an overhaul of their human-resources practices, he also said he had not seen another workplace in the NFL “anywhere near” what former employees had experienced. The Commanders over a period that ran from 2006 through 2019.

Snyder didn’t appear at Wednesday’s hearing. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the committee, said she would appear for subpoena Snyder next week.

Goodell testified under oath for more than two hours in front of the committee, which conducted an eight-month inquiry into how the commanders and NFL handled claims of rampant sexual harassment of the team’s female employees. In a memo released Wednesday morning, Maloney detailed the committee’s findings, including that Snyder sought to interfere with the league’s investigation of his organization’s directing intimidation witnesses and launching a “shadow investigation” that yielded a 100-page dossier on those who had. Shared claims of harassment against the commanders.

Goodell said the league would find unacceptable and “not permit” any action that would discourage people from coming up with knowledge violations coming forward. He added that, in August 2020, as the NFL took over the investigation that had begun under the commanders’ oversight, the league told the team not to conduct its own investigation.

Throughout his testimony, Goodell reiterated his defense of the league’s approach, even in the face of Congress members’ questions that burrowed into serious claims of NFL handling of workplace violations, especially his decision to keep the investigation’s findings confidential.

Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, pushed back on Goodell’s assertion that a written report could not be prepared and released for this investigation out of concern about the confidentiality of some people. Raskin referred to the NFL’s 148-page report released in 2014 regarding the Miami Dolphins’ bullying scandal in which names and identifying information participating witnesses were redacted, and asked why the commissioner did not do the same with the league’s report led by the lawyer Beth. Wilkinson.

“Redaction doesn’t always work in my world,” Goodell said.

Later, Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California, read from a September 2020 engagement letter in which the NFL appeared to commit to Wilkinson producing a written report of the investigation. Goodell said the league decided a month later that the report would be delivered only orally, an approach that has been criticized by many of the people interviewed for the league-run investigation.

Goodell did not go out of his way to defend Snyder, who declined two requests to appear at Wednesday’s hearing, citing a lengthy “commanders-related business conflict.” The commissioner asserted that, as a team owner, Snyder is responsible for his club’s workplace environment and said he did not believe Snyder was contemptuously telling the league office that a team employee had sexually harassed and assaulted Snyder in 2009 before reaching a $ 1.6 million Confidential settlement, as reported by the Washington Post.

At one point, when Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, pressed Goodell if he would remove Snyder as a team owner, he first demurred but then replied when she repeated her question: “I do not have the authority to remove him. , “Goodell said.

While Goodell couldn’t unilaterally remove Snyder, he could recommend the rest of the league’s owners do so. Such a measure would require a vote by at least 24 of the league’s 32 member clubs, and it is expected that Snyder would vigorously fight against any such effort.

But two other high-ranking officials at the other teams said Snyder’s fellow owners and other top executives had grown impatient with the answering news about the unflattering barrage of constant barrage. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the issues are still being investigated. One of the team officials said the NFL team owners are planning to discuss the second league inquiry – which is looking at a new allegation of sexual harassment against Snyder as well as claims of financial malfeasance by the organization – once it is completed.

Several Republican members of Congress disagreed with the committee’s decision to focus on the workplace culture of an NFL team. Maloney responded that a driving purpose in the hearing was to strengthen workplace protections for all employees and proposed two new pieces of legislation, one of which would prohibit the use of nondisclosure agreements, or NDAs, to conceal workplace misconduct and require employers to conduct investigations. the result with victims.

Goodell said the NFL would work with lawmakers on such legislation, though the league has not instructed teams to use such agreements, but rather said that NDAs cannot be used to prevent employees from participating in a league investigation.

Ken Belson contributed reporting.

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