So how do we think it went, that little chat? You know, the conversation between NFL lackey Beth Wilkinson and the man in charge of league lackeys, Commissioner Roger Goodell — the one about Dan Snyder and the sexual harassment scandal inside his Washington Football Team organization.
Maybe like this?
Wilkinson enters Goodell’s office pushing a handcart full of boxes with transcripts, depositions, court documents, videotapes, souvenirs and anything else she gathered during the year she supposedly spent looking into the sins of owner Snyder and his frat brothers.
She unloads the boxes, starts to open them up, and Goodell says, “Wait, Wilkie. Let’s just stick to the short strokes here. Were things bad?
“Yes,” Wilkinson replies.
“Are they bad now?” Goodell asks.
“I don’t think so,” she answers.
“Great,” Goodell says. “Hell of a job, Wilkie. Just drop off all that stuff in the incinerator by my door. You know, the one with the sign that reads, ‘Deposit all bad stuff about the league here.’”
Don’t laugh too hard … what do you think happened to the Spygate investigation materials?
We are left to imagine how Wilkinson delivered all the evidence of her probe into Snyder and the Washington Football Team sexual harassment charges — accusations outlined by 40 women in Washington Post stories and information released by lawyers representing the victims.
But after more than a year of investigation, after more than 160 interviews, there is nothing — other than that conversation — to show for Wilkinson‘s probe. There is no executive summary, no detailed report to either document or refute the charges.
There is only a $10 million fine for Snyder — granted, the biggest fine for an owner in NFL history, but still just the cost of doing business — and our imaginations.
In that case, go with the worst-case scenario, given the weasels involved.
“We do not have a written report,” said Lisa Friel, the league special counsel for investigations and a former New York prosecutor. There’s no report, according to Ms. Friel, because of the sensitivity of the allegations. Because of the demands for anonymity.
Seriously? Is that the way they did business in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office?
The NFL did issue a lengthy statement. “It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway,” Friel said. The culture at the club was very toxic, and it fell far short of the NFL’s values and we hold ownership to a higher standard.”
No, it shouldn’t “go without saying.” It should have been said, repeatedly. And a report, documenting that toxicity and identifying who was responsible would have been appropriate and justifiable.
The “we” Friel referred to was the NFL. The “we” she referred to had no connection to the women who stepped forward to accuse Snyder and an array of his former top executives of misconduct.
The former deputy of the Manhattan District Attorney Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit wasn’t speaking on behalf of those women. She works these days for the old boys club that is the NFL.
Nor was Wilkinson speaking for those women. She gets her paycheck from the same place as Friel.
And where, in all this, is the voice of Cathy Lanier?
The former District police chief is in charge of NFL security, but she made a big deal of speaking for women when she was hired in 2017.
“I’m hoping this hire means something to young women in terms of fairness and opportunity,” she told The Washington Post. “For people to assume that the NFL is not fair — or it’s a man’s club or not committed to (addressing) issues like domestic violence — I don’t feel that way inside this organization. That perception is for me to change.”
Lanier grew up in Washington. She once filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department. How could she remain silent?
I suspect there was some glimmer of hope, given the lengthy time that Wilkinson was supposedly devoting to the probe, that something real would come of it — for the victims and for the Washington Football Team fans who might have found some justice in seeing Snyder banished, if not forever, then for a couple of years at least, to his yacht.
Instead, the NFL empowered Snyder. He‘s been given a debt waiver and the league is loaning him money to buy out his feuding minority owners. He will reclaim total control of the beleaguered franchise.
The $10 million fine, we’re told, goes to charity — to groups committed to character development, healthy relationships and anti-bullying.
If I was one of those groups, I’d be tempted to throw the money back in their face — and let the world know why. Victims’ groups, of all people, should speak for victims.
There is some debate about whether or not Snyder was suspended. He is supposedly going to step aside from the day-to-day operation while his wife Tanya, the new co-CEO, allegedly runs the organization, while Snyder focuses on a new stadium deal and other big picture issues.
Snyder is voluntarily stepping aside, according to the NFL.
But how does that square with Snyder’s comments in the embarrassing Wall Street Journal interview published last Tuesday? According to that report, “Snyder acknowledged that he needed to change himself and become more deeply involved than in the past, when he was often distant from the management of his franchise.”
“We regret not being eyes-open enough,” Snyder said.
How’s he going to do that while standing in the parking lot outside Ghost Town Field using his Erector Set to build his new stadium
• You can hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.