Washington's NFL Franchise Is a Cesspool of Sexual Harassment And Verbal Abuse

Ryan Phillips
Daniel Snyder, Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins
Daniel Snyder, Philadelphia Eagles v Washington Redskins / Will Newton/Getty Images
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Fifteen women have come forward to accuse employees of Washington's NFL franchise of repeated sexual harassment and verbal abuse. The Washington Post dropped a story on the matter Thursday evening and its contents are damning. The women don't directly accuse owner Daniel Snyder of any inappropriate activity towards them, but they blame him for the culture of the organization and an understaffed human resources department.

The Post's article has accounts from 15 former female employees of the franchise and a total of 40 current and former employees. The results are infuriating.

The section below encapsulates just some of what was going on:

"A few months after Emily Applegate started working for the Washington Redskins in 2014, she settled into a daily routine: She would meet a female co-worker in the bathroom during their lunch breaks, she said, to commiserate and cry about the frequent sexual harassment and verbal abuse they endured."

As stated, Applegate and the others didn't directly accuse Snyder of any bad behavior but they certainly blamed him for how the organization was run:

"While Applegate and others did not accuse Snyder of acting improperly with women, they blamed him for an understaffed human resources department and what they viewed as a sophomoric culture of verbal abuse among top executives that they believed played a role in how those executives treated their employees. Snyder routinely belittled top executives, according to three former members of his executive staff, perhaps most intensely Greene, the former sales executive, whom Snyder mocked for having been a male cheerleader in college. After one executive staff meeting, according to one former employee, Greene said Snyder had ordered him to do cartwheels for their entertainment."

In regards to the understaffed human resource department, Washington apparently had all of one full-time staffer in charge of HR for the entire organization. In a statement to the Post, Washington pointed out they hired a new HR manager in 2019.

"“There’s no HR,” said one former veteran female employee who left in 2019. “And there was never a reporting process, nor was one explained to new employees about how you should report something.”"

"The team’s human resources staff consists of one full-time staffer — who also performs administrative duties at team headquarters — responsible for more than 220 full-time employees, according to several former employees."

Women were treated so horribly inside the organization that veteran female employees had to pull them aside early to give them an unofficial briefing:

"Former women employees said the first few weeks at Redskins Park also often came with an informal, but invaluable, orientation administered privately by veteran female employees who warned them to avoid certain people and places, such as the staircase near the entrance to team headquarters."

Plenty of individuals were called out directly in the piece as well.

Former director of pro personnel Alex Santos was accused of making inappropriate remarks about the bodies of six former employees and two reporters who covered the team. He also made unwanted advances towards them. Both Rhiannon Walker of The Athletic and Nora Princiotti of The Ringer both gave their own personal accounts to the Post and accused Santos of harassment. Santos was fired last week.

Richard Mann II was fired last week. While the team's assistant director of pro personnel, Mann sent a text message (obtained by The Post) telling a female employee he had debated with co-workers whether or breasts had been surgically enhanced. Another female employee received a text telling her to expect "an inappropriate hug ... And don't worry that will be a stapler in my pocket, nothing else."

Former president of business operations Dennis Greene asked female employees in sales to wear low-cut blouses and tight skirts and to flirt with wealthy suite holders. He was let go in 2018 after it was revealed he sold access to the team's cheerleaders, including a photo shoot in Costa Rica.

Mitch Gershman, the former chief operating officer, was accused by Applegate of berating her over small matters while also "complimenting her body." Other female employees supported Applegate's account of verbal abuse at the hands of Gershman, who left the franchise in 2015. When asked about Applegate's accusations, Gersham said he didn't even remember who she was.

Snyder declined comment on the story. Some of the women who spoke under the condition of anonymity were bound by non-disclosure agreements, and the organization refused to release those former employees from their NDAs. This is the only official statement given by Washington to the Post:

"In a statement, the team said it had hired D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson and her firm, Wilkinson Walsh, “to conduct a thorough independent review of this entire matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future.” “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,” the team said."

Washington has jettisoned everybody who was individually named in the piece, but that obviously does not mean the problem is gone. This story is a harsh indictment of the kind of culture Snyder has created as owner of the franchise. He's responsible for that, even if he did not participate in the harassment these women had to go through during their time with the organization.

In a just world, Snyder would face the consequences of letting all of this happen under his watch. It's now the duty of the NFL and Snyder's fellow owners to ensure that happens.

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