Thursday, July 16, 2020


Remember when the Washington football team did away with their controversial name?

That was so five minutes ago.

What about when they hired their new coach, Ron Rivera? Remember that? He’s been here seven months, and Rivera seems to have become head coach, general manager, team spokesman, president, and if he stays around a little longer, he may have a seat at the next NFL owners meeting.

Let’s really turn the way back machine to another time, another age. Remember when the football team’s best player accused the medical staff of trying to kill him?

Boy those were the days.

The aura of self-destruction that has engulfed this franchise since Dan Snyder purchased the team more than 20 years ago has never been stronger. Like the Blob running through a small Pennsylvania town, it is consuming everything in its path.

So the football team has sent for help.

Just before the Washington Post story finally broke Thursday afternoon that documented 15 former female team employees telling stories of sexual harassment within the organization, the news came out that the football team had hired high-priced Washington lawyer Beth Wilkinson to look into Delta House and see if she can find something close to normal human behavior.

Wilkinson will be doing an “independent review of the team’s culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct.”

While she is there, maybe Wilkinson can look into why they brought in bingo caller Sherm Lewis to call plays in 2009 or the Albert Haynesworth contract.

Her main job, though, will be to create a giant condom to cover Dan Snyder to make sure none of that “culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct” wind up infecting the owner.

After all, Snyder didn’t hire such a top gun for her conclusion to be, yeah, the guy who is paying my fee was one of the boys.

That is what many Washington fans, current and estranged, are rooting for — that somehow, out of all this turmoil, Snyder, one of the most hated owners in all of sports, is somehow forced to sell the team.

I’ve been saying all along that the path to a Snyder exit is a trifecta of “S” — scandal, suspension and then sale.

Fellow owners are reluctant to banish one of their own. But it has happened. It is what kicked Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson out of the club, forced to sell two years ago after allegations of sexual harassment were reported in a Sports Illustrated article.

“This could be Jerry Richardson 2,” a high-ranking league source told me.

That Richardson report directly charged the owner himself, with the report that at least four former Panthers employees had received significant financial settlements due to inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by Richardson.

In 2018, another Sports Illustrated story chronicled numerous stories of sexual harassment and other improper workplace conduct within the Dallas Mavericks organization. But after a seven-month investigation by the organization, owner Mark Cuban was not directly connected to the incidents but was called out for “institutional and other failures” and, after donating $10 million to various women’s sports leadership organizations and domestic violence groups, Cuban survived.

The Post story did not implicate Snyder directly in any of the sexual harassment allegations. But it did take Snyder to task for encouraging and allowing a “sophomoric” cultural atmosphere.

The irony of this, of course, is that departed team president and their Prince of Darkness, Bruce Allen, once famously declared the culture “is actually damned good.”

I wonder if Wilkinson will be talking to the departed Allen — or the three team officials who left this week, all of whom were named in the Post report in connection with direct allegations of sexual harassment.

Two of them — Alex Santos, the team’s director of pro personnel, and Richard Mann, assistant director of pro personnel — were both fired earlier this week. Larry Michael, the team’s play-by-play announcer and senior vice president of content, suddenly “retired” this week.

All were named in the Post story in connection with claims by women of embarrassing and harassing behavior.

Will Wilkinson talk to the 15 women named in the story? After all, 14 of them spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying they feared being sued by Snyder because they had signed nondisclosure agreements as part of the terms of their employment. The team refused a request from the Post to release the women from those agreements. Will they say no to Wilkinson, too?

For anyone who is familiar with the owner or this organization, is any of this honestly a surprise?

Hear Thom Loverro Tuesdays and Thursdays on The Kevin Sheehan Podcast and Wednesday afternoons on Chad Dukes Vs. The World on 106.7 The Fan.

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.

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