“The comment was unfounded and inappropriate, and I have the utmost respect for both the reporter and ESPN,” McCloughan wrote in the statement. “I regret that my actions have brought undeserved negative attention to the Redskins organization and its leadership. My comments in no way reflect the opinions or attitudes of the organization, and I regret that my behavior had in any way negatively impacted the team and its loyal fan base.”
In the tweet, dated Aug. 30, Jessica McCloughan implied that ESPN’s Dianna Russini had exchanged sexual favors for news tips. The account disappeared Wednesday afternoon, as screen grabs of the tweet spread rapidly on social media.
Russini, formerly a sports anchor for Washington’s NBC station, had reported in recent days that the Redskins’ front office was split regarding the future of Robert Griffin III.
Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie initially told reporters seeking comment about the disparaging post that it had come from a “fake” account.
Within hours, Wyllie provided the statement on behalf of McCloughan’s wife, who took responsibility and apologized.
ESPN also issued a brief statement, in which the network called Russini, who joined the network this summer, an “excellent reporter who should never have to be subjected to such vulgar comments.” The network added that it was “obviously extremely disappointed by today’s developments.”
The controversy erupted just minutes after the Redskins adjourned their annual Welcome Home Luncheon, at which team owner Daniel Snyder spoke about the team’s charitable work off the field and Coach Jay Gruden spoke with enthusiasm about efforts to improve on the field.
Wednesday’s events followed a tumultuous six-day stretch in which a neurologist cleared Griffin to compete after suffering a concussion only to reverse his decision 24 hours later, and Gruden announced that Kirk Cousins would supplant Griffin as the team’s starter this season.