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Over the years, the NFL has ordered investigations regarding multiple major scandals. Usually (if not unanimously), those investigations resulted in the creation of a written report. Usually (if not unanimously), those reports are made available.
From Bountygate to Bullygate to Deflategate, we knew as much as we ever wanted to know (and more) about the facts of the case and the findings of the investigations.
In the case of the extended investigation of the Washington Football Team, there will be no written report made available. There will be no written report made available because there will be no written report made.
The league made that disclosure during a Thursday conference call regarding the investigation.
It’s a stunning development, preventing any and all specific information from ever being shared about what Beth Wilkinson found during her investigation — an investigation that ultimately caused the league to find “that for many years the workplace environment at the Washington Football Team, both generally and particularly for women, was highly unprofessional,” that “[b]ullying and intimidation frequently took place and many described the culture as one of fear, and numerous female employees reported having experienced sexual harassment and a general lack of respect in the workplace,” that “[o]wnership and senior management paid little or no attention to these issues,” that “senior executives engaged in inappropriate conduct themselves, including use of demeaning language and public embarrassment,” and that “[t]his set the tone for the organization and led to key executives believing that disrespectful behavior and more serious misconduct was acceptable in the workplace.”
So how did Beth Wilkinson get to that point that she made such damning conclusions about the team? Plenty of specific, sordid pieces resulted in the creation a puzzle that caused NFL executive Lisa Friel to describe the environment as “very toxic” during the Thursday conference call.
And, yes, it was Friel not Wilkinson on the conference call. Wilkinson won’t be saying anything about the things she specifically found, and no one will be providing the kind of specific examples of misconduct that, if those things landed in articles, blogs, talk shows, or tweets, would create a major groundswell of criticism for the relatively tame punishment of owner Daniel Snyder for his role (whatever it may have been; without a written report we don’t know) in an organization where male employees and executives grossly misbehaved for more than 20 years.
The league defends its position by claiming that it promised multiple employees that their confidentiality would be protected. In my opinion, that’s convenient cover for covering up the facts. With more than 150 people interviewed, names could have been changed. Indeed, the specific names don’t matter nearly as much as the specific behaviors, and the behaviors could have been disclosed without disclosing the specific people who endured them.
Snyder’s wife, Tanya, reportedly said on Thursday that she’s “mortified.” She presumably knows things that the rest of us never will. She presumably knows things that the rest of us did would find mortifying, too. Things that, if the rest of us where mortified, would force Commissioner Roger Goodell to compel Daniel Snyder to sell — and to fear for his own job, if he didn’t.
Goodell last feared for his job based on his handling to the Ray Rice fiasco. Put simply, this is Ray Rice without the videotape of the knockout punch from inside that elevator. In that case, the league was accused of having the video before the rest of us saw it. (Robert Mueller investigated the situation and, yes, there was transparency.) In this case, by failing to have Beth Wilkinson create a written report that then would allow fans and media to see in specific detail what happened within the “very toxic” Washington Football Team, the league essentially has turned off the camera in the elevator before the video could be created.
NFL refuses to provide details regarding the WFT investigation originally appeared on Pro Football Talk