Beth Wilkinson is a heavyweight. She’s represented Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, among other high-profile clients and cases.
She has represented Philip Morris USA, Pfizer, Georgia Pacific and Microsoft — not exactly William Kunstler.
Wilkinson helped prosecute Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, which should have been good preparation for her investigation into the Washington football team.
Just think of the franchise as Panama and owner Dan Snyder as Noriega. Except this time, her job is to protect the dictator, not imprison him.
The team hired the high-priced lawyer to investigate sexual harassment charges leveled by 15 women in a Washington Post story. They painted an ugly picture of a boys’ club out of control, victimizing women.
The next day Snyder issued this response in a statement:
“The behavior described in yesterday’s Washington Post article has no place in our franchise or society.
“This story has strengthened my commitment to setting a new culture and standard for our team, a process that began with the hiring of Coach (Ron) Rivera earlier this year.
“Beth Wilkinson and her firm are empowered to do a full, unbiased investigation and make any and all requisite recommendations. Upon completion of her work, we will institute new policies and procedures and strengthen our human resources infrastructure to not only avoid these issues in the future but most importantly create a team culture that is respectful and inclusive of all.”
Who are they kidding?
The law firm of Dewey, Cheatem & Howe could look at this corrupt football franchise and make the only “requisite” recommendation that matters.
Snyder is patient zero for the sickness that plagues their Asburn headquarters and needs to go.
Was he directly implicated in any of the behaviors described in the article? No.
But at the very least, his heavy-handed callous style in encounters with human beings that weren’t football players over his tenure as owner, along with his ego-driven decision-making process, created a toxic environment where dysfunction thrived on the football field and in the team offices.
You might call it the aura of self destruction.
I believe I had that.
This isn’t an investigation into what was wrong or the causes of it. It’s an exercise in protecting the owner, already under fire from his minority investors who want out, an owner who is scrambling to try to hang on to his football team.
The NFL will likely allow him to do that. Owners in all sports are very reluctant to drum one of their own out of the club, for fear of it happening to them someday.
Unfortunately, disgruntled and disgusted Washington fans will only have one horse in the trifecta (scandal, suspension, sale) needed for Snyder’s ouster — scandal. There may be a fine coming Snyder’s way, but we know that for people like Snyder, fines are the cost of doing business — in this case, bad business, certainly not enough to be banished to his yacht forever.
The NFL has seen fit to allow Snyder to conduct his own investigation, choosing not to look into the charges themselves (and once more, where is the voice of former District police chief Cathy Lanier, now the NFL head of security, in this? She herself once filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department).
Wilkinson — an ROTC scholarship student at Princeton and former Army lawyer — will likely be a good soldier. She knows how the NFL likes to do business. She’s done it before.
She represented the league in an antitrust lawsuit involving the NFL Sunday ticket package. And she was one of the league’s top mouthpieces defending their indefensible position in the concussion fight.
Like the Catholic Church speaking out against Galileo’s contention that the earth revolved around the sun, Wilkinson insisted during the class action lawsuit brought by thousands of players — many of them brain-damaged — that the NFL did not hide or suppress medical information about the long-term damage caused by concussions.
“We strongly deny those allegations that we withheld any information or misled the players,” Wilkinson told reporters during the litigation battle.
She’ll do just fine.
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 email@example.com.
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