Enough is enough, Dan Snyder must go.
That’s the message from women’s advocacy group UltraViolet after the Washington Post published an explosive report about 15 women, who had worked for Snyder’s Washington franchise, claiming they had been sexually harassed and verbally abused by team executives.
Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of UltraViolet, released this statement:
Daniel Snyder has enabled, encouraged and fostered a hostile workplace and toxic culture for women. He must go. If the NFL is serious about cleaning up its act, they will force Snyder to sell the team.
The NFL has repeatedly failed women by putting our safety and wellbeing in jeopardy. Yesterday’s report by the Washington Post that more than fifteen women were routinely subject to sexual harassment and abuse by people in positions of power at Washington state’s NFL Team shows that the league is continuing to fail women.
Unfortunately these allegations are not surprising. Dan Snyder’s long refusal to abandon the football franchise’s racist namesake and logo speaks volumes. As we have continued to see over and over again, misogyny and racism seem to go hand-in-hand.
There is no place in any workforce for harassment and assault. The NFL must act now, and fast.
While Snyder is not directly accused of sexual harassment in the WaPo story, it paints a clear picture of a hostile work environment where men in Snyder’s inner circle, or very public figures such as longtime announcer Larry Michael, felt free to make inappropriate remarks about women and some pressured female colleagues into dating them.
Snyder released a statement on Friday announcing the team was retaining the services of a law firm to do an investigation, adding that the story “strengthened my commitment to setting a new culture and standard for our team.”
But Thomas, whose organization represents 1.2 million women, told Deadspin that Snyder, who has owned the team since 1999, has proven he’s not capable of changing the culture that he created.
“The problem has been there for so long.” Thomas said. “I thinik most observers, feminist organizations, and anti-racist organizations, have loooked at his ‘leadership’ for a long time. There have been rumors about this toxic environment around the team. I don’t think people are surprised, and I think people are tired of it. I think it’s up to the owners and Goodell to force him to resign at this stage.”
UltraViolet has taken issue with the NFL very publicly before, as it paid to fly planes bearing a “GoodellMustGo” banner over football stadiums in 2014, after footage emerged of running back Ray Rice viciously assaulting his fiancée in an Atlantic City casino. However, according to Thomas, very little has changed, despite empty promises by the league. Thomas blames Goodell for issues that he says the commissioner has “enabled and protected” for a very long time.
“It seems very clear that there is a toxic culture that permeates the NFL — a racist, sexist culture. I don’t think the problems that have been exposed by the courageous women who came forth about their experiences with the Washington, D.C. football team is isolated to that team,” said Thomas, who added that the league should be an anti-racist, anti-sexist institution, but says the league is very far from that.
“Roger Goodell has had many, many years to clean up this act, to do the right thing for the team, for the country, and the league, on a number of issues. I don’t think Goodell is the person to do it. That being said, with this moment, I think the priority for everybody right now is forcing Snyder to sell. And I think Goodell should play a role in making that happen.”
In general, sports commissioners have broad, sweeping powers. A move to get rid of an owner wouldn’t be unprecedented, as the league pushed out Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson over sexual misconduct and racism in 2017. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling after racist remarks he made on video surfaced.
Snyder was already facing pressure from sponsors over the usage of his team’s racist name and finally agreed earlier this month to change it.