- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 7, 2021

The rat seems to be feeling cornered and may be gnawing off body parts in desperation.

Beth Wilkinson’s report on her investigation into allegations of sexual harassment inside the Washington NFL franchise appears to have its sights set on owner Dan Snyder, targeting him for suspension or even exile from the league, according to a report by The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan.

According to the radio station’s report, Wilkinson is recommending that the league “force the owner to divest his ownership of the team.” 

Wilkinson is the high-powered attorney first hired by Snyder to investigate sexual harassment allegations made by 15 women in a series of articles in the Washington Post. The league took over the probe and now Wilkinson reports to the NFL.

If Snyder can’t be forced to sell, Wilkinson suggests the Washington owner be suspended “for a significant period to allow the club to repair the infrastructure and culture.”

After the scoop from the Sports Junkies, the Richmond Times-Dispatch weighed in with a report that a public-relations campaign supporting the owner is taking place on Facebook, using ads to promote an article from an obscure website that sings the praises of Snyder’s charitable works.

The newspaper also reported that a number of new Twitter accounts were created in October — all female — that praise Snyder’s efforts. The accounts appear to be “bots” — accounts that do not represent real people, according to the Times-Dispatch.

So far, there have been denials all around. The NFL called the radio station’s report “absolutely false” and insisted that the league had “received no such report,” according to CBS Sports. 

And one of Snyder’s lawyers — he has become a cottage industry for the legal profession — has denied the team owner is behind the social media fakes. 

Dan Snyder unequivocally denies ever using bots or fake accounts to put out favorable news stories. In fact, over the past year, thousands of bots have popped up in a coordinated campaign to spread misinformation about Dan and the Washington Football Team, all of which have been reported as such to various social media sites,” attorney Jordan Siev told the Times-Dispatch.

Add to the mess a complicated legal fight with his minority ownership partners, and you have the culmination of decades of a dishonorable, despicable life in charge of one of the most beloved institutions in the nation’s capital — this Washington Football Team, once a unifying force in this city but now a source of embarrassment.

The walls are closing in, and the owner is reacting as anyone who has lived through the Snyder Washington Football era might expect.

What’s driving Wilkinson’s push to banish Snyder from the league, even if only temporarily, is his refusal to cooperate with the Washington attorney’s probe, according to 106.7 The Fan.

“She was recommending this … mainly because of the coverup and lack of integrity throughout the internal investigations,” Junkies co-host Jason Bishop said. “Apparently he was trying to persuade or instruct other employees not to talk to Wilkinson’s firm about what they were investigating. So there was the coverup right there. And once she reported back … that this was happening, that’s why she’s recommending he needs to go, because of the coverup.”

Not exactly the spirit of cooperation and openness that new team president Jason Wright touted to anyone who would listen shortly after he was hired about the conversations he had had with the owner before he came aboard.

“In those conversations [with Snyder] we didn’t just talk about the rosy future,” Wright told CBS Sports in August. “We talked about the mistakes we’ve made. I talked about mine. Dan talked about his. We were really transparent with one another. We asked each other provocative questions about tough topics. And the fact that we got to that level of transparency and openness really gives me a lot of confidence walking into this job.”

There’s that word — transparency.

We’ve heard a lot of that word coming out of the Washington Football Team since the spin campaign began to try to repair the damage done by the owner — and make no mistake about it, until we actually see “transparency,” it’s been spin and little more than that. It will have all been meaningless without true “transparency” — if not from the team, then from the NFL.

This battered and bruised fan base has the right to know the truth — especially if the Wilkinson recommendation is indeed to force Dan Snyder to sell the Washington Football team and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who claims he grew up a fan of this team, offers salvation to those fans left behind who have suffered through decades of despair.

After all, they’ll need time to make preparations for the parties.

Hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

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

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