Former Washington Football Team employee alleges lewd videos taken of cheerleaders
Washington Post reports videos were taken for executives, including owner Dan Snyder
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that a DVD was produced for Washington Football Team executives containing lewd footage taken of then-Washington Redskins cheerleaders without their consent during the Ashburn-based NFL team’s 2008 cheerleader swimsuit calendar photo shoot. This report builds on a July 16 report from the publication that detailed the experiences of 15 former female employees who said they were sexually harassed and verbally abused during their time with the team.
Brad Baker told The Washington Post that Larry Michael (then the team’s lead broadcaster and a senior vice president) instructed staffers to make a video for team owner Dan Snyder that shows moments when women’s nipples were inadvertently exposed as they shifted positions or adjusted props during a 2008 cheerleader swimsuit calendar photo shoot. Michael called these moments captured on video the “the good bits” or “the good parts,” Baker, who was a producer in the team’s broadcast department from 2007 to 2009, told The Washington Post.
Snyder and the team did not respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment and Michael denied the allegations.
“I feel betrayed and violated,” former Washington Redskins cheerleader Heather Tran told The Washington Post after viewing the 2008 video of outtakes from the swimsuit calendar shoot. The unofficial video contains brief footage of her exposed nipples.
“Larry said something to the effect of, ‘We have a special project that we need to get done for the owner today: He needs us to get the good bits of the behind-the-scenes video from the cheerleader shoot onto a DVD for him,’” Baker told The Washington Post. The publication obtained a copy of the 2008 video from another former employee as well as footage from the 2010 calendar shoot in the Dominican Republic that included a close-up of one cheerleader’s pubic area, obscured only by gold body paint. The source told The Washington Post that Michael had ordered that the video be burned to a DVD titled “For Executive Meeting.”
In 2018, The New York Times also reported that during a 2013 trip to Costa Rica, cheerleaders’ passports were collected upon arrival at the resort, leaving them without any formal identification. Some cheerleaders were also required to be topless during a photo shoot, to which spectators (all men) had been invited — which The New York Times had reported were team sponsors and FedExField suite holders.
After The Washington Post released its July 16 report, the Associated Press reported that Snyder had hired Washington, D.C.-based law firm Wilkinson Walsh LLP to review the team’s culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct. The announcement came amid rumors trending on social media and on sports news sites that The Washington Post was going to publish an exposé about Snyder (who purchased the NFL team in 1999 from Jack Kent Cooke’s estate for $800 million) and the team.
Snyder himself wasn’t directly accused of any misconduct in the original Washington Post report, but nearly all accounts from former female employees mentioned in the article happened during the time he has owned the team. Snyder, whom The Washington Post said declined to be interviewed for the story about alleged harassment, issued a statement on July 17 saying such behavior “has no place in our franchise or society,” adding that he was committed “to setting a new culture and standard for our team.”
Michael, who for 16 years was the team’s play-by-play radio announcer, retired in mid-July. Director of Pro Personnel Alex Santos and Assistant Director of Pro Personnel Richard Mann II were fired the weekend of July 11. In December and early January, longtime team president Bruce Allen was fired and head athletic trainer Larry Hess, who had been with the organization for 17 years, was also let go.
Among the men accused of harassment and verbal abuse in the July 16 Washington Post article are Michael, Santos and Mann, each of whom reporters say were “members of Snyder’s inner circle and two longtime members of the personnel department.”
Amid the workplace controversy, the team is also undergoing a name change after extensive discussion on what many see as a discriminatory and derogatory name against Native Americans. The team on July 13 announced the retirement of the Redskins team name and logo and is accepting input for branding suggestions through its new website Washington Journey.
Despite a losing streak and name controversy, the team in 2019 had the seventh-highest NFL team valuation at $3.4 billion, according to Forbes.