Opinion: As more allegations of sexual misconduct engulf Snyder and WFT, NFL must ask when enough is enough
The smoke that has swirled around owner Daniel Snyder and his Washington Football Team for much of this season just will not stop.
For five months now, allegations have continued to surface, revealing sexual misconduct towards women employed by Snyder’s franchise during his two decades as owner.
Each round of incidents seemingly paints Snyder’s organization in even more unflattering lights. Each unveils problems more widespread and damning than those before it.
One of the first bombshells came on Saturday in the New York Times which detailed the ugly feud between Snyder and his three minority owners. Then, the The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Snyder's team paid a female former employee $1.6 million in 2009 as part of a confidential settlement after the woman accused Snyder of sexual misconduct.
The NFL’s investigation of Snyder and his organization remains ongoing, and the league had no comment on the matter because the process remains incomplete.
But eventually, commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners of the other 31 NFL teams have to ask themselves when enough is enough.
It’s no matter of debate. The Washington Football Team, under Snyder’s direction, has been a bad organization. The futility on the football field merely reflects the deeper problem that is the toxic environment created and fostered by Snyder and the character-devoid men that he entrusted with the operation of the franchise in all facets.
Snyder can release statements in which he claims ignorance of the mistreatments that took place beneath his nose. He can support the investigation of his franchise (remember that once this mess first became public he played dumb, hired an independent attorney to review the allegations, and then turned it over to the NFL). He can declare intention of changing the culture and making inclusivity and respect of women core tenets of the organization.
But Snyder himself remains the root of the problem. It seems unrealistic to expect that true change can come on his watch.
Until the latest report surfaced, all of the sexual misconduct allegations (more than 30 in number) had implicated Snyder’s underlings, but not the owner himself. But now at least one accusation is directed squarely at him.
The details behind the incident that sparked the allegations against Snyder remain unknown. And the timing of the revelation is convenient because it leaked while Snyder is fighting with the minority owners of the team, who have become weary of Snyder’s ways and wanted to either sell their shares of the team, or force Snyder to sell his. And it’s certainly possible that the revelation of this 2009 incident is another ploy to weaken Snyder’s grip on the franchise.
But it doesn’t change the fact that this is just another black eye for a franchise more synonymous with ineptitude and embarrassment than success.
The turmoil that has embroiled Snyder’s organization for years – the secretly-taped videos of cheerleaders in stages of undress, the lewd comments made by high-ranking officials about female employees, the unwanted sexual advances women either employed by the team or assigned to cover the team for media outlets, the verbal abuse rained down on subordinates when they didn’t perform up to expectations – none of that aligns with the vision of an NFL that Goodell and his top lieutenants have worked hard in recent years to usher to a place of inclusivity and higher moral standing.
According to the NFL's bylaws, the commissioner can determine if an owner has been guilty of conduct detrimental to the welfare of the league, and if so, he has the power to fine an owner. Or, if the conduct is egregious enough, he can push for a vote on whether to force that owner to sell the team. A three-fourths vote by the other owners would be required for an ousting.
But it's unknown if owners of the other teams view Snyder and the franchise’s turmoil as serious enough to take action against him. They should be deeply troubled by Washington’s track record. But let's not act like he's the first billionaire to agree to a lucrative settlement to make an accuser go away.
Still, this lengthy rundown of transgressions should warrant a move by the NFL.
Regardless of the details that led to this settlement, we know that for far too long, toxicity and sexual misconduct has engulfed the Washington Football Team. And that goes against the principles the NFL claims to be built on. It also contradicts what we desire in a healthy society.
So, at some point, enough is enough.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones and listen to the Football Jones podcast on iTunes.
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