The NFL, by all appearances, had been treading lightly when it comes to allegations that 42 former Washington employees experienced sexual harassment. That could be changing.
Per a league source, the NFL has in recent days become more committed to fully and completely investigating the situation.
The decision to assume control over the investigation points, at least superficially, to that reality. However, whether the league is truly pushing the situation aggressively and zealously will become evident only through direct observations made by those who are involved in the process.
In past situations, the league has been very aggressive, as to the Saints’ bounty scandal or the Dolphins’ bullying scandal or #Deflategate or the allegations against Panthers founder Jerry Richardson. There also has been a perception in some cases (particularly the bounty scandal and #Deflategate) that the league determines the outcome in advance and steers the investigation where the league wants it to go.
So what, if anything, does the league want here? Based on the immediate aftermath of the initial reporting from the Washington Post in July, which gave rise to a report that the team was looking at a fine and nothing more, it’s easy to conclude that, once again, the cart has been placed before the horse. In this case, it’s not clear why the league wouldn’t be as aggressive as it has been in other situations, especially given the public characterization by Commissioner Roger Goodell of the allegations regarding the Washington workplace environment as consisting of “unprofessional, disturbing and abhorrent behavior” that is “entirely inconsistent with our standards and has no place in the NFL.”
It’s possible, frankly, that other teams and/or owners fear that they’d face similar problems if a close look were taken at the dynamics of their own workplaces over the last 20 years. In the aftermath of Richardson’s sale of the Panthers due to specific allegations of misconduct that had been made against him and resolved via confidential settlement agreements, there was a sense that other owners could end up facing similar problems.
That didn’t happen then. Perhaps some are concerned that, if the league drops the hammer on Snyder, it eventually could happen elsewhere now.