Congress announced on Wednesday that it would subpoena Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder, but that wasn’t the only high-profile moment in the House committee hearing investigating Snyder and his team.
While Snyder himself turned down an invitation to testify before Congress, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell testified, albeit virtually. The members of the committee asked Goodell a wide range of questions during the hearing, which touched on matters both related and unrelated to the investigation into the commanders’ case.
AT his opening statementGoodell acknowledged that “the Washington workplace was unprofessional and unacceptable in many ways…” and had a “grossly deficient personnel management function, especially with regard to reporting and record keeping practices.”
Goodell’s testimony included many comments from committee members as well as the commissioner, but here are the most important findings, as well as responses from various stakeholders:
Goodell won’t remove Snyder as owner
When asked by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) if Goodell Snyder would be removed as Commanders owner, NFL Commissioner said “I don’t have the authority to remove it.”
That’s true, but Goodell has the power to refer any matter relating to an owner who “has been or is guilty of conduct prejudicial to the welfare of the League or professional football” to the League Executive Committee, who in turn may vote on the removal of the owner. according to the constitution and bylaws of the NFL.
Questions about the NFL investigation
The committee asked Goodell questions related to the league’s internal investigation, as well as a 2009 report of sexual harassment allegations against Snyder.
Goodell has repeatedly said the league did not release the full report due to name privacy concerns, but Rep. Jamie Ruskin (D-MD) questioned why the league released a 2014 report on workplace harassment in the Miami Dolphins, as well as 243 -page report on the Deflategate scandal within the New England Patriots in 2015.
Goodell’s response: “Congressman, with all due respect, editing doesn’t always work in my world.”
(Perhaps this is a reference to the committee’s decision that Snyder conducted a “shadow investigation” against his accusers who sought to discredit their accusations against him in the collective).
The commissioner also said he did not remember the league being briefed in 2009 about the sexual assault allegations against Snyder, but he was aware of the allegations by July 2020 — a month before the league took over the investigation into the commanders. Snyder reportedly paid his accusers $1.6 million to settle these claims.
Why did Goodell testify?
One of the more interesting questions not related to the commanders’ investigation came from Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA). He asked Goodell if he only agreed to testify because of the NFL’s exemption from antitrust laws that give the league special privileges over television networks. The Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 allowed the NFL to sell packages to networks, which the league split equally among its teams.
“You [appeared today] because you understand that Congress has granted the NFL an antitrust exemption that allows NFL teams to cooperate on television contracts, and the NFL doesn’t want Congress to interfere with that antitrust exemption, am I right?” Johnson asked.
Goodell denied Johnson’s claim.
The hearings escalated at various times during the interrogation period, with committee members expressing concerns about the use of state time. Some members mentioned other issues in the country that they considered more important than the current topic of discussion.
Others asked football-related questions that had nothing to do with the Commanders investigation.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked Goodell about two seemingly random topics – Barstool Sports founder Dave Portn and Commanders defense coordinator Jack Del Rio. Jordan.
Under the pretense of violating First Amendment rights, Jordan asked Goodell why Portnoy was banned from NFL games. Goodell said he was “not familiar with the matter”. Jordan then asked if Goodell agreed with Commands head coach Ron Rivera’s decision to fine Del Rio $100,000 for Del Rio’s claims about the January 6 US Capitol attack. Goodell replied that he did not feel he should be in a position to agree or disagree with Rivera’s decision.
Rep. Pat Fallon (R-MA) spoke about the Deflategate scandal that resulted in a four-game suspension for then-New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and asked Goodell how the league can guarantee consistent PSI levels in soccer balls.
Goodell simply replied that referees check footballs before the game.
Other members of the committee asked Goodell what he thought about racism in America and in the NFL.
Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT), who played 10 years in the NFL and won the Super Bowl with the then-Oakland Raiders in 1980, asked Goodell about the league’s “racing norm” standard, which led to insurance denials for black athletes. . especially in relation to dementia associated with football-related concussions. The league disavowed in 2021 and resulted in a $1 billion settlement last October.
Goodell stated that these standards are not required by physicians and that the NFL has adopted new standards.
In perhaps the strangest line of football-related questions, Rep. Glenn Grotman (R-WI) asked Goodell if he would “use his mouthpiece” to push to dispel “the myth of systemic police racism.” This came after Grotman denounced Goodell for supporting “leftist anti-American propaganda”.
In response, Goodell said he would not “apologize for fighting racism”.
Response from Snyder, ex-Commanders and John Gruden
Many other people had something to say after Goodell’s testimony.
Shortly after the hearing, the commanders sent out an email detailing changes to the team’s work culture, some of which were a direct result of the NFL’s investigation into the commanders. This included being reminded that Snyder hired the only Hispanic coach in the NFL (Ron Rivera), the team’s first black president (Jason Wright), and the appointment of Snyder’s wife, Tanya, as co-CEO (which was commissioned as part of the NFL). in 2021).
Lawyers for more than 40 former Washington Commanders employees issued a statement via Washington Post reporter Nicky Jabwal:
“Today it was both overwhelming and discouraging to listen to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell insist that Dan Snyder and the Washington Capitals are solely responsible for the team’s two decades of sexual harassment of female employees,” attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra said in a statement. Katz. statement. “This, of course, is not true. Today, the Committee released a damning report showing that Snyder and his lawyers were also monitoring and investigating the complainants, their lawyers, witnesses and journalists, which Goodell was aware of and did nothing to remedy.
“In his inexplicable and apparently ongoing desire to protect Dan Snyder, Goodell continues to refuse to make Beth Wilkinson’s findings public, citing reasons that do not stand up to even minimal scrutiny. Confidentiality can be protected in a written report by redacting the names of witnesses, which is a common practice, including in the NFL.
“The NFL issued a written report and protected its promised confidentiality in 2014 when it investigated sexual harassment within the Miami Dolphins organization. It was clear at today’s hearing that the NFL could have done the same with the Wilkinson investigation, with the exception of Mr. Goodell’s continued reluctance to expose the full extent of the wrongdoings of Dan Snyder and the Washington commanders.
“To be clear, our clients want and deserve a full account of Beth Wilkinson’s findings. Until he agrees to make such findings public, Mr. Goodell’s alleged concern for employees who have suffered over 20 years of harassment and abuse is a sham.”
In a separate statement, lawyers for former Las Vegas Raiders head coach John Gruden released a statement condemning Goodell and the NFL. Gruden is suing the league over leaked racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails between Gruden and former Washington chief executive Bruce Allen that led to Gruden’s decision to step down as Raiders coach in 2021.
“It is clear from Commissioner Goodell’s testimony today that the NFL continues to resist actual accountability and only desires to be selectively transparent. In John Gruden’s lawsuit, a Nevada court completely rejected an attempt by the NFL and Commissioner Goodell to force arbitration and cover up their conduct. from the public,” the lawyers said in a statement. “If they appeal, we welcome the opportunity for the Nevada Supreme Court to issue an opinion upholding the decisions and overturning the invalid NFL Constitution, as well as the unfair arbitration provisions that the NFL has been hiding behind for so long.
“John Gruden’s fight is important not only to himself, but to many other people, and there will be no real accountability until NFL misconduct is no longer discussed behind closed doors.”