October 27, 2021
By Amy Tennery
NEW YORK (Reuters) -Former Washington Football Team employees called for the National Football League (NFL) to make public the findings of its investigation into their ex-employer on Tuesday, as team owners converged for the first time in nearly two years.
The NFL fined the Washington Football Team (WFT) $10 million in July after an investigation by independent counsel showed widespread “bullying and intimidation” and sexual harassment of female employees but did not suspend team owner Dan Snyder.
Surrounded by reporters as the NFL kicked off its first in-person league meeting since December 2019, former Washington employees Melanie Coburn and Ana Nunez said they were delivering a letter to team owners on the NFL’s “Social Justice Working Group” calling for the league to disclose its findings.
“Now is the time for the NFL to change course and take action to denounce past racist, sexist and homophobic conduct,” the letter read. “The first step in doing so is transparency. The NFL must make public the findings of the investigation into the WFT.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters on Tuesday the league had opted to release a summary of the findings – as opposed to a lengthy written report as it did for past controversies including the “Deflategate” scandal – in an effort to protect the anonymity of those who came forward.
“Some did not want to be public, some wanted to – and they’re welcome to be public if they wish to,” said Goodell. “We want to make sure we’re protecting the people who came forward, who had to relive those experiences.”
Coburn, who was a cheerleader from 1997 to 2001 before working in marketing for the team through 2011, told reporters she and the 11 others who signed the letter had asked “repeatedly” for a public release from the NFL.
“I just felt compelled to be here in person,” she said. “Let them know that we’re here, we’re human and we deserve to be heard.”
The New York Times earlier this month reported former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden used racist, misogynistic and homophobic language in emails that were uncovered during the Washington Football Team investigation.
Raiders owner Mark Davis waved off reporters after exiting the hotel where the meetings were taking place on Tuesday, telling the media scrum he was going to dinner.
Citing the Gruden emails, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform earlier this month sent a letter https://oversight.house.gov/news/press-releases/chairs-maloney-and-krishnamoorthi-launch-investigation-into-the-nfl-s-handling-0 to Goodell requesting documents and information on the investigation.
“The NFL’s lack of transparency about the problems it recently uncovered raise questions about the seriousness with which it has addressed bigotry, racism, sexism, and homophobia,” the committee said, setting a deadline of Nov. 4 for its request.
Goodell said the league would cooperate with Congress.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Ken Ferris and Sonya Hepinstall)