Trigger Warning: Sexual Harassment and Misconduct are mentioned in the following article. I will be using the term alleged, this isn’t to discredit any of the women involved in the story, it’s to save my own skin from legal reprimand.
The Redskins have been front and center of attention lately as they made headlines for finally seeking a change in their team name and logo. But the focus shifted to sexual harassment allegations in the workplace on Thursday evening. This happened because The Washington Post uploaded a bombshell of an article about the inside of how women were treated by executives within the organization. The article compiled allegations from 15 different women, one of whom was totally on the record.
The allegations don’t come as a big shock to me, unfortunately. I remember the New York Times article about the team’s cheerleaders as they detailed the horrific treatment they endured during a trip to Costa Rica for a calendar photoshoot in 2013. Now, two years later, former female employees detailed sexual harassment they faced at the hands of now-former Redskins executives and employees close to the team. The article included screenshots of text messages between the anonymous women and the accused men involved. The list of men includes former radio host for the team, Larry Michael, the team’s director of pro personnel and his assistant, Alex Santos and Richard Mann II, former president of operations, Dennis Greene, and former chief operating officer, Mitch Gershman. Two of the men listed left the team more than 2 years ago; two more were fired and the remaining retired less than a week before the WaPo article was published.
All 15 women were so brave to talk about their time with the Washington team. Emily Applegate attached her name to the story and spoke to the Washington Post completely on the record. The other 14 women who spoke to the Post did so under the condition of anonymity. They had signed nondisclosure agreements and were threatened with legal recourse if they were to speak negatively about the team. The Post’s article made it clear that neither owner Dan Snyder or former team president Bruce Allen were accused of any wrongdoing. However, the women did express doubt that the pair didn’t know that these alleged instances had occurred.
The article mentioned that the Human Resources department was highly undermanned, having only one full-time employee that oversees more than 200 full-time employees and also helps in other parts of team operations. The women also cited the team’s handbook, saying that while there was a small part talking about sexual harassment, they were all unaware of any protocols for processing such claims.
Dan Snyder issued a statement on Friday afternoon, saying that the “behavior described in yesterday’s Washington Post article has no place in our franchise or society.” Of course, I agree with the statement. However, I find it to be completely disingenuous considering what was published about the exploitation of the team’s cheerleading squad in 2013 under his ownership. He also said that the story “strengthened his commitment to setting a new culture and standard for our team.” This is another part that I don’t believe. He knew about the Times article that was published in 2018. It’s 2020 now. It took 2 years of issues in the public eye to him to commit to making a change inside of his organization. I hope that Beth Wilkinson, the attorney looking into the allegations laid out in the Post’s article, will be unbiased. But, given Snyder’s track record of ignoring issues until the problems arise in the public eye, I don’t think we will see her law firm’s actual findings. He has owned the team since 1999, and the franchise has had their issues pretty much ever since.
Listen, we all know that being a woman in a male-dominated industry will come with a lot of scrutiny from colleagues and other people. We know it will happen no matter what as we enter into the position. What we don’t sign up for is being harassed about our bodies and looks.
In June, a Twitter user said this, and he really thought he did something. Personally, I think it would be easier to just stop harassing people trying to do their jobs, and then it won’t be an issue. Another Twitter user described makeup as a tool for women to sexualize themselves. Hard no on that, we wear makeup because we think we look cute not so Chad34765827349876 thinks we’re “hot.”
Can’t forget the good ones
Message to ALL WOMEN:
As a man in the NFL, I BEG AND PLEAD for you to please speak up against harassment in your work place. There are men like me who don’t know their sitting next to bad men. Even listening to you now, you’re scared.
Don’t be… The good ones got your back!
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) July 17, 2020
Zach Banner, an offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers, posted a tweet on Friday begging women to come forward with their stories and that he has the backs of women.
If you’re a guy who works in sports, now isn’t the time to talk.
It’s a time to listen.
— Dan Marrazza (@DanMarrazza) July 17, 2020
Another tweet that caught my eye was from Dan Marrazza who said that, as a man, this is the time to just shut up and listen.
I think the NFL should force Snyder to sell the team. This isn’t one incident that happened and then the employee in question was let go. These are allegations dating back to almost the beginning of his tenure as owner. It isn’t an isolated incident that happened with one male employee being inappropriate. Five men are named in the article from over a dozen women. There was also another employee who saw at least Applegate being verbally abused by Mitch Gershman. Yes, it’s unfortunate that this employee didn’t report the issue. But, I don’t blame him as Snyder and the HR department, or lack thereof, wouldn’t do anything about it anyway. He did offer to be a witness or file a formal complaint on her behalf, but, she shut down his offer. I believe these women. We should all believe these women. Women belong in sports for their love of sports just like men do.
-Jess Donahue (@jldx392)
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