Report: Washington Football Team probe recommends Snyder divest ownership
Parts of report leaked to "The Sports Junkies" radio show
“The Sports Junkies,” a Washington, D.C.-based sports radio show, reported Friday that an attorney investigating the Washington Football Team has recommended majority owner Daniel Snyder divest his ownership of the NFL team.
The show’s hosts at WJFK 106.7 FM The Fan said they received parts of a report written by Beth Wilkinson, the lawyer conducting the NFL’s investigation into the Ashburn-based team, which came under fire last year over reports in The Washington Post of lewd videos taken of the team’s cheerleaders without their knowledge, which were later screened for team executives.
In December, The Washington Post reported that the team paid a female former employee $1.6 million in a confidential settlement in 2009 after she accused Snyder of sexual misconduct. According to the leaked report, the alleged incident occurred on Snyder’s private plane. December’s news came after bombshell allegations by 15 women who said they were sexually harassed when they worked for the team during Snyder’s tenure as majority owner since 1999. Several Washington Football executives were fired in the wake of the August report.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell decided a few days later, at the end of August, that the league would take over the investigation into the team, which had launched its own third-party probe.
“Sports Junkies” host Eric Bickel said on the show that Wilkinson presented multiple options to punish Snyder, who is also accused of trying to cover up details of the suit. In November, the team’s former general counsel sued Wilkinson to stop her from revealing information from the settlement.
If Snyder’s not forced to sell his part of the team, Wilkinson recommends Snyder’s suspension for several months, Bickel said. Separate from the NFL probe, Snyder has been battling his team’s three co-owners in court over their desire to sell their minority shares of the team to investors in California who offered $900 million. However, Snyder blocked the sale and is trying to buy 25% of the minority shares. The case is in arbitration.
Snyder purchased the team in 1999 from Jack Kent Cooke’s estate for $800 million. Although the team’s record has been mostly undistinguished during that time, the former Washington Redskins were a consistently popular draw until very recently, and in 2019, the team had the seventh-highest NFL team valuation at $3.4 billion, according to Forbes. In July, the team bowed to corporate sponsors’ pressure and announced it would drop its former name, which was broadly seen as discriminatory and derogatory against Native Americans, and said it would choose a new name after months of discussion and public input.
In early February, Goodell said that Wilkinson was closing in on completion of her investigation of the team and said that her findings will be shared with the team and others, while not saying whether they would be made public.