Tanya Snyder, in her first extensive interview since she was named co-CEO of the Washington Football Team, said the past year has been “one of the most difficult” years in her and husband Dan’s life in the wake of the team’s sexual harassment scandal.
Mrs. Snyder made the comments to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, speaking to him for 25 minutes on his podcast.
In July, the NFL fined Washington $10 million after the conclusion of a year-long investigation in which more than 40 women said they were sexually harassed while working for the team. As part of the announcement, the league said Mr. Snyder would voluntarily seize control of day-to-day operations for “several months” and that Mrs. Snyder would take over.
Mrs. Snyder said she was “horrified” upon reading the accusations, but said she’s committed to helping the organization do better.
“It’s hard,” Mrs. Snyder said. “I get a lump in my throat. It’s a cross between a, I don’t know, a crime show and a nightmare movie. But I’m here to tell you that today, I know we are doing everything possible — and I think where we’ve ended up and where we’re heading, I couldn’t be more excited. So for that I think it’s a blessing.”
Mr. Schefter asked Mrs. Snyder what causes the lump in her throat. She described the “pain” her family endured, referring to the media. She then added that there’s been a “void” from the Snyders not talking publicly about the scandal.
Mrs. Snyder said she had a “mama bear instinct” — “like a lightning bolt” — that caused her to act.
“We very easily could’ve ran away and been fine and sailed away,” Mrs. Snyder said. “And I think a few people have even asked us that, and drinking pina coladas, but that’s not who we are. That’s not what I want to teach my kids. And that is one thing that I’ll tell you gives me strength to sit here today and to talk to you, with conviction, to know what we’re doing right now and where we are is where we should be, in the best place possible.”
Mrs. Snyder praised the team’s leadership structure in coach Ron Rivera and team president Jason Wright. The team hired Rivera roughly six months before the allegations became public and hired Wright a month after them. She said Wright and Mr. Snyder hit it off over a Zoom conversation, impressed by Wright’s demeanor.
Throughout the conversation, Mrs. Snyder did not directly mention the women who made the accusations nor did she offer sympathy toward them — only saying the reports were “horrifying” and that she tried to stop reading at some point because “it became too much and too ridiculous.”
The NFL described Washington’s workplace as having a “toxic culture.” It did not compile a written report nor validate any specific allegation.
Mrs. Snyder said she was motivated to take action, adding she’s met with every person in the organization. At one point, Mrs. Snyder compared herself to a backup quarterback — one who comes off the bench to enter the game.
“I’m diving in and I’m so excited that I’m able to implement and make changes I’ve wanted to make for a long time,” Mrs. Snyder said. “And have recommended and suggested and respected the leadership that’s been here. … I did have meetings and tried to give input and give feedback, most of which, nothing happened. So I couldn’t be more excited.”
Did Mrs. Snyder felt she was being ignored?
“Yeah, you heard me say that,” she said. “Listen, I dove into quite a few things with the league as well. And there’s a lot of policies in place and there are a lot of stages and steps and I’ve always had a respect for the process and procedures that have taken place within the league and worked within those rules.
“So now I just feel like I have a better grasp on all of that, so I think I’ll be able to have a much better impact.”
Before her promotion to co-CEO, Mrs. Snyder was mostly involved in the team’s charitable foundation. She was a prominent figure in helping the NFL launch its “Think Pink” breast cancer awareness campaign.
Mrs. Snyder also indirectly referred to Mr. Snyder’s legal battle with his former minority partners. Last year, Mr. Snyder bought out the 40% stake from the team’s three minority shareholders following a messy legal process — purchasing the shares for $875 million.
“We’re 100% owners and we’re in a much stronger position to be able to make each and every change we need to make,” Mrs. Snyder said. “So for that, I’m very excited.”
• Matthew Paras can be reached at email@example.com.
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