In what many call a bombshell report by the Washington Post, fifteen former employees of the then-Washington Redskins accused former scouts and members of Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder’s inner circle of sexual harassment.
The report, a fantastic piece of investigative reporting by Washington Post journalists Will Hobson and Liz Clarke, details unwelcome comments of a sexual nature from Redskins employees. It also includes exhortations to wear revealing outfits and act flirtatiously in order to close sales deals.
At the forefront of the allegations sit three members of the Washington organization who have departed in the past week: longtime radio host Larry Michael, the “Voice of the Redskins”, Alex Santos, the club’s director of pro personnel, and Richard Mann II, assistant director of pro personnel. Michael abruptly retired Wednesday. Santos and Mann were fired last week.
With the timeframe of allegations ranging from 2006-2019, some may question how such incidents went widely unreported. They were reported, but never garnered media attention.
The fifteen allegations are just the tip of the iceberg for the team from Washington. In 2018, the New York Times published an article describing a 2013 trip to Costa Rica involving the Redskins’ cheerleaders. The cheerleaders were stripped of their passports by Redskins officials upon arrival, and later stripped of their clothing, too, as some cheerleaders were required to be topless for a calendar photo shoot.
Due to the secluded setting of the resort in which the shoot was being held, revealing poses would not have been a concern of the women. But not on that day. Why? There were spectators at the event. All were male.
“At one of my friend’s shoots, we were basically standing around her like a human barricade because she was basically naked, so we could keep the guys from seeing her,” one of the cheerleaders told the Times. “I was getting so angry that the guys on the trip were skeezing around in the background.”
After the shoot was over, 27 of the 36 cheerleaders went back to their rooms. However, nine had another task – being the personal escorts of the male sponsors at a nightclub. The cheerleaders felt like the team was “pimping them out.”
Since Dan Snyder bought the Washington Redskins in 1999, there has been a culture of misogyny. In 2009, the Washington City Paper wrote that the Washington cheerleaders were “bringing the craft closer to pole dancing with every season.”
On Snyder’s radio station, WTEM-AM, there was a listening contest in which “five lucky winners” could win a car wash featuring the Redskins cheerleaders. The advertisment featured panting males discussing the contest, with one asking the other if he would like the cheerleaders “soaping up and scrubbing you.”
In 2012, Washington’s cheerleading director and choreographer Stephanie Jojokian announced a mandatory team-bonding boat trip. The trip, however, was set on longtime Redskins suite holder and local businessman William Teel Jr.’s yacht. There were several men aboard the yacht. Juliet Macur, who penned the 2018 report in the Times, writes:
In online interviews, cheerleaders were asked to describe their perfect date and what the first thing they noticed in a man was.
In a now-removed feature on the Redskins website, fans could play ‘Hot or Not’, clicking on an image of the cheerleader with the more appealing looks to the user. It is merely a small part of a string of inappropriate actions by the Washington organization.
It is apparent that Dan Snyder created a hostile work environment for a number of members of the Redskins community. His lackluster record of 142-193-1 is of little concern when allegations of this nature arise. A number of fans have called for Snyder to step down for years. With these awful allegations, they may have finally received their wish,
It is likely that this is the beginning of the end for the Snyder regime in Washington. Several journalists believe that sexual harassment allegations are just the start of troubles that will follow Snyder and the organization throughout the offseason. A forced sale of the $3.1 billion dollar team may very well occur within the near future.
In the 2020-2021 season, Washington will likely sport a new name and front office. One can only hope that the new circumstances help create a healthy, winning culture for years to come.