The long-rumored “bombshell” report detailing issues inside the soon-to-be renamed Washington football team was published by the Washington Post on Thursday. In it, 15 former employees of the team accused former front office members of sexual harassment and misconduct. In addition, two reporters also claim they were harassed by the same employees.
Indications the report was coming began Sunday night, with numerous members of the media indicating they heard reports of what was coming and it “wasn’t going to be pretty.” Earlier this week the team fired Director of Pro Personnel Alex Santos and Assistant Director of Pro Personnel Richard Mann II, both of whom are central figures in the Post’s report.
The women who came forward say Santos routinely made comments about their appearance and asked whether they were interested in him romantically on a regular basis. An internal investigation was launched in 2019 when Rhiannon Walker, a reporter for The Athletic, told the team that Santos pinched her before remarking that she had “an ass like a wagon.”
Mann also reportedly contributed to a toxic work environment. In text messages obtained by the paper he needled a female employee, asking whether her breasts were surgically augmented. Mann also told her to “expect an inappropriate hug” when they next saw each other, disgustingly adding “don’t worry that will be a stapler in my pocket, nothing else.”
Julia Payne, the former assistant press secretary to President Clinton served as the team’s vice president of communications in 2003, and had this to say of the organization:
“I have never been in a more hostile, manipulative, passive-aggressive environment — and I worked in politics.”
At the top is owner Dan Snyder, who is not painted in a favorable light. He’s depicted as a despotic leader whose control over the organization is so absolute that it does not foster a culture where coming forward with claims of harassment is welcome or open. This is not the first time women have come forward with claims against the team under Snyder’s ownership.
In 2018, the New York Times revealed that the team had used cheerleaders as “personal escorts” during the 2013 season for a trip to Costa Rica to entertain suite holders and key team sponsors. The report indicated that cheerleaders weren’t expected to have sex with the men on the trip, but were coerced and felt “pimped out” when they were asked to be part of a topless photo shoot for the men. The team investigated the report internally, but avoided facing any retribution from the NFL.
In the wake of the latest report the team issued a milquetoast canned response, saying:
“The Washington Redskins football team takes issues of employee conduct seriously. While we do not speak to specific employee situations publicly, when new allegations of conduct are brought forward that are contrary to these policies, we address them promptly.”
It’s unclear at this time whether the NFL will intervene and levy any penalties against the organization. The last time allegations of this scale were brought against a team came in 2017, when former Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was accused of sexual harassment by a team employee. Public and private pressure led to Richardson selling the team and leaving the league disgraced.