NEW YORK — As the first in-person NFL league meetings since December 2019 kicked off, two former Washington Football Team employees arrived in the lobby of the Intercontinental New York Barclay hotel in midtown Manhattan with a stack of letters multiple pages long, asking for the findings of the report into the team’s workplace misconduct be made public.
Addressed to members of the league’s social justice committee — Gayle Benson of the New Orleans Saints, Michael Bidwill of the Arizona Cardinals, Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons, Jimmy Haslam of the Cleveland Browns and Shahid Khan of the Jacksonville Jaguars — the letter urged the NFL to “make public the findings of the investigation into the Washington Football Team.
“While your working group was formed to address issues of racial justice in the league, you also have the ability to seek justice for the hundreds of women and men, such as us, who bravely came forward to share stories of harassment and abuse we experienced while employees of the WFT. The NFL should not be allowed to encourage employees to come forward at great personal and professional risk to speak to investigators, only to sweep the results of that investigation under the rug.”
— Seth Wickersham (@SethWickersham) October 26, 2021
The league declined comment, saying that commissioner Roger Goodell would speak to the media over the course of the meetings.
“There are a lot of employees who are still scared and intimidated and threatened to come forward,” said former WFT marketer and cheerleader Melanie Coburn, later adding that she was “shocked” that the report wasn’t made public.
“We deserve to be heard,” Coburn said.
Coburn and Ana Nunez, who used to work for WFT in sales, gave the letters to the front desk, and were assured that they would be hand delivered to all team owners in attendance.
Earlier in the day, Sports Illustrated reported that the Washington Football Team investigation wasn’t on the official agenda for the meetings, but that it could come up in owners-only sessions.
Unlike other high-profile NFL investigations, such as Bountygate and Deflategate, there has been no written report of the findings from independent investigator Beth Wilkinson on harassment and cultural issues inside the Washington Football Team under owner Dan Snyder, only a series of oral reports.
Last week, two House Democrats sent a letter to Goodell, demanding the league provide Congress with the results of the investigation. The letter, sent by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-New York), who is the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois) asked the league to turn over a number of documents and answer numerous questions involving the investigation by Nov. 4.
That letter came two weeks after leaked emails from the investigation led to Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s resignation. His emails sent to then-WFT president Bruce Allen, a seven-year span when Gruden was employed by ESPN as the lead analyst for Monday Night Football, included racist, anti-gay and misogynistic language. The NFL Players Association has called on the NFL to release the 650,000 emails collected in the NFL’s investigation.
Washington was fined $10 million on July 1 after the investigation concluded and owner Dan Snyder’s wife, Tanya Snyder, who is a co-CEO of the franchise, took over daily operations while Dan Snyder focused on securing a new stadium.
ESPN’s John Keim contributed to this report.