Under Dan Snyder’s stewardship, the Washed Football Team has become a tired, dull reflection of the burgundy and gold of old. Each offseason is replete with a stream of allegations, controversies, and criminal investigations. Oh, and the team is rudderless.
Two years ago, they were one loss away from picking Joe Burrow first overall. Burrow’s in the Super Bowl, and the Commanders’ depth chart has no upside at quarterback while scouting replacements in the weakest class since 2013.
A week ago, the Commanders unveiled their new team name and revamped uniforms after nearly two years of buildup. The announcement was executed poorly, accidentally leaked multiple times, and left fans crestfallen. It was the plainest and least popular option available, which is a good metaphor for Snyder’s tenure. Yet, that’s a more benign element of Washington’s brand problem. Even if the unveiling had been a rousing success, Snyder’s penumbra would have cost a dark shadow.
His presence has irradiated the franchise. Scandals and subpoenas have piled up at a prolific rate, and it appears to be ramping up again. Six months ago, the NFL released its findings from a year-long investigation into the Commanders’ office culture. Despite the independent counsel finding countless examples of improper behavior in their assessment, Snyder was given a slap on the wrist in the form of a $10 million fine for the team and forced to temporarily step back from daily operations, naming his wife co-CEO.
One week after the unveiling of their new team moniker, Snyder has reminded us that his shamelessness knows no bounds. According to Adam Schefter, the Commanders organization has hired an independent investigation to investigate allegations of sexual harassment leveled by former team employee Tiffani Johnston directly against team owner Dan Snyder during a Congressional roundtable. A 20-year team vice president corroborated her accusations.
Last week’s testimony by Johnston renewed calls to release the NFL’s full internal investigative report into Washington. That will never see the light of day, though, because, in a true mockery of the process, Snyder must be the one to approve the release of the NFL’s findings.
Ironically, while Snyder announces an independent investigation on one front, and refuses to allow the NFL to release the previous report in its entirety, his personal attorneys are busy launching an ugly counterattack in the public sphere on Johnston.
Imagine the nerve it takes to hire the investigators looking into you, knowing that the league office will standby and approve it. During the NFL’s investigation into the franchise’s culture, Snyder repeatedly interfered by reaching out to accusers and agreed to seven-figure settlements. Former team president Bruce Allen was later guffawing on the other end of the damning emails, which got Jon Gruden canned. However, that was the most extreme punishment handed out.
His actions today aren’t doing him any favors and speak to how invincible the NFL shield has made him. What we know so far about sexual impropriety within the Commanders was disturbing enough before last week. However, there are no degrees of separation between Johnston’s public allegations and Snyder.
It’s inexplicable that a league so protective of its image that they banned taunting, would continue to prop up such a disgraceful stain of a human. If Goodell had any actual authority, he and the league office would be leading the charge to protect the shield (and women) just like they did after hiring Robert Mueller to look into the Ray Rice tape.
No owner has been more of a drag on his fanbase than Snyder. He’s also becoming a headache for other owners as well. At the very least, the other 31 team owners understand self-preservation, and Snyder has caught the attention of Congress. You can bet that none of them want to end up like Gruden or Donald Sterling because the NFL can’t keep the Commanders owner in check.