In the week since the Washington Redskins’ signing of linebacker Reuben Foster, shortly after his second domestic violence arrest in less than a year, provoked widespread outrage, team owner Daniel Snyder and President Bruce Allen have remained publicly silent.
But during the broadcast of Monday night’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, ESPN reporter Lisa Salters disclosed that Allen had spoken to her the day before, off camera, about the controversial acquisition.
Before making the decision to sign Foster, Allen told Salters, he had conducted his own “investigation of sorts” into the Nov. 24 incident in a Tampa hotel in which Foster’s ex-girlfriend accused him of slapping her in the face, smacking a phone out of her hand and shoving her in the chest, claims Foster has denied.
To investigate the incident, Allen told Salters, he utilized Tampa-area contacts he developed during his time as general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2003 to 2008.
“He said after Washington gathered its own information, they felt comfortable that they had heard a side of the Foster story that is different,” Salters said.
The existence of Allen’s investigation into the Foster case was news to Tampa police, which is conducting the criminal investigation of the allegations. In an email Tuesday, Tampa police spokesman Stephen Hegarty said the agency’s public information office has had no contact with Allen or anyone else from the Redskins seeking information about the case.
Allen declined an interview request Tuesday. In a phone interview, Tony Wyllie, the Redskins’ senior vice president of communications, acknowledged that the club did not request any information from law enforcement in Tampa about Foster. Wyllie also said the Redskins did not seek any information from law enforcement in Santa Clara County, Calif., where the same woman accused Foster of assaulting her earlier this year, before recanting.
“Bruce never said to Lisa that they reached out to the police; he said we did our internal investigation,” Wyllie said. “Both Bruce and Doug [Williams, the team’s senior vice president of player personnel] have a lot of connections down in Tampa. . . . They had their own people.”
Wyllie declined to answer questions about who these people are and what new information they provided about the case.
Allen and Williams “don’t want to disclose that,” Wyllie said.
This is the second instance of confusion over the extent of research the Redskins conducted before deciding to claim Foster on waivers. In a statement last Tuesday, Williams said the Redskins had “candid conversations with a number of [Foster’s] ex-Alabama teammates and current Redskins players who were overwhelmingly supportive of us taking this chance.”
The next day, two former Alabama players on the Redskins, Jonathan Allen and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, said they had not been approached by management before the signing. There are five other former Alabama players on the Redskins; none has answered questions about Foster since the signing.
The lawyer for Foster’s accuser, Adante Pointer, expressed confusion as to what new information Allen could have collected relating to the Tampa incident, because there were no witnesses and the Redskins did not contact Pointer or his client.
“The Redskins should not be rubber-stamping what Reuben Foster had to say about that night,” Pointer said. “One-sided investigations tend to result in supporting that one side.”
Obtaining the public records related to the Tampa and Santa Clara County cases from law enforcement is not difficult or time-consuming. Within hours of receiving an email request last week from The Washington Post, Tampa police replied with the one-page incident report relating to Foster’s arrest. A Santa Clara courts spokesman took one day to reply to a similar request with the 33 pages of public records from the case file, via email.
Wyllie said there was a pertinent portion of Allen’s interview with Salters that she did not describe on the broadcast.
“He said, ‘Hey, I’m not going to put my thumb on the scales of justice here,’ ” Wyllie said. Foster’s accuser “deserves to be heard, and Reuben deserves to be heard . . . and we’re going to let this play out.”