Snyder’s fellow owners have been reluctant to force a sale of the Washington Football Team merely on the grounds of his shoddy business practices. They lacked the will to get rid of him, and now they’re going to have to eat his dog food. They find themselves guilty by association with a business that produced bootleg porn, with an owner who former cheerleader Tiffany Bacon Scourby says tried to send her to the hotel room of one of his old high school buddies. They’re partners with a man who sank a flagship organization, leaving behind a smutty storefront. If they don’t purge this guy from their ranks, they own his franchise’s misdeeds, past and future.
Snyder has always been a classless punk who tried to cover for himself with expensive cigar waving. But the conduct toward women detailed by scores of former franchise employees is something else entirely and can’t be read without an immediate urge to scrub with a grease-cutting detergent. You already knew about the 17 women who accused the organization of a pattern of sexual harassment. Now there are 25 more — that’s 42 in all — who allege misconduct, including accusations against Snyder directly, which depict an organization so slimy it provokes an inarticulate cry of “Gah!”
Female interns at team headquarters were treated like “fresh meat to a pack of wolves.” There were such constant unwanted advances and pervasive harassment that women inside the franchise formed a secret support group.
Then there are those indisputable, ogling, invasive voyeur videos. They exist. And The Washington Post has them, courtesy of appalled former team employees.
It’s one thing for the league to put up with a dissolute twerp who is sure to deliver a doormat team and who can be fleeced out of high draft choices with laughable ease. If Snyder’s idea of running a franchise was to send menials scurrying for more whiskey ice, the other owners were happy to accept the free if sloppy proceeds. Snyder has wrecked nine different coaches and been through 21 different quarterbacks in two decades without ever threatening to win so much as a stuffed animal. If he wanted to give up a second-round pick for a patently past-it Donovan McNabb and offer $100 million for a blatantly goldbricking Albert Haynesworth, why, the other owners were glad to have him do it.
They obviously enjoyed preying on such a conspicuous fool.
Owners don’t like meddling in each other’s matters, and few of them have the credibility to criticize from an indisputably higher ground. But this is not about a single billionaire’s bad behavior or shabby practices or price gouging. It’s about a face-of-the-league franchise in the nation’s capital engaging in such prolonged and encompassing misogyny and degeneracy that there will be years of litigation ahead. Snyder’s tenure has not just embarrassed every one of his fellow owners, including supposedly dignified municipal ambassadors such as John Mara of the New York Giants, Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons and Clark Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs. More than that, his organization has exposed them.
What are the practices at other teams? Is Snyder’s outfit an outlier, or do other clubs have problems just as bad? You will learn a lot about Snyder’s fellow owners and the cultures in their buildings by how they respond to this.
NFL rules state that owners can vote on a forced sale if one of them “has been or is guilty of conduct detrimental to the welfare of the League or professional football.” Anything less will be an out and out dodge.
The standard NFL in-house investigation followed by a commissioner’s fine won’t work this time — and anyone who thinks it will should brace for the strong backlash arm of karma. This is a league that has seen women become fully 47 percent of its audience, according to its own glossy promotional boasts. They better beware of offending a constituency that is not only sizable but sick and tired. One with a proven record for launching effective boycotts and seismic social movements against recalcitrant industries. Just ask Hollywood.
Virtually every member of that 47 percent in the audience has had a wearying experience with a workplace leer or has felt her jaw tighten with a forced fend-off smile or has cringed at the encroachments of a slack-gutted, office-entitled creep. NFL owners should understand that the female fan so important to their future has an eye for empty action. And those owners therefore have a choice to make: It’s either him or her.