Image c/o Getty Images
Thursday saw a shocking turn of events in the storied history of Washington's NFL team who is set to change its name after 87 years of being known as the Redskins.
Late Tuesday evening some interesting Twitter messages began surfacing from varying sources including ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Peter King at PFT that a strongly worded and difficult report regarding the front office workings of the organization was about to drop with some very serious allegations.
That was followed up on Wednesday with some intriguing messages from the Washington Post and then came to full fruition this afternoon when the aforementioned Post released a scathing statement filled posting that carried with it allegations from 15 former organization employees documenting through interviews over the past few weeks a litany of “disgusting” cultural norms in the office space of the team.
From 2005 through until just as recently as 2019, the organization had an ongoing culture of sexual harassment, misogynistic commentary and hot mic moments that just seemed to either go unnoticed or swept under the rug.
The fallout has already caused three long-time members of the organization, Director of Pro Personnel, Alex Santos and his assistant Richard Mann were both fired. Larry Michael, the “voice of the Redskins” immediately announced his retirement. The article has also brought complaints against President of Business Operations Dennis Greene and former COO Mitch Gershman.
None of the allegations though were said to directly involve owner Dan Snyder or former team President Bruce Allen.
The most outspoken of the women, former Marketing Coordinator Emily Applegate, who left the Redskins in 2015, stated “it was the most miserable experience of my life, and we all tolerated it, because we knew if we complained – and they reminded us of this – there were 1,000 people out there who would take our job in a heartbeat.”
Applegate went on to say, she would “assume Bruce [Allen] knew, because he sat 30 feet away from me … and saw me sobbing at my desk several times every week.”
The team has retained the law firm of Wilkinson Walsh and most specifically the services of named partner Beth Wilkinson to “conduct a thorough independent review of the entire matter and help the team set new employee standards for the future.”
New Head Coach Ron Rivera, who was brought in to help be a part of a culture change throughout the club and is reported to have broad powers as also currently serving as Team President added “We’re trying to create a new culture here…We’re hoping to get people to understand that they need to judge us on where we are and where we’re going, as opposed to where we’ve been.”
EXCERPTED FROM THE INTERVIEWS CONDUCTED BY THE WASHINGTON POST: The allegations raised by (Emily) Applegate and others — running from 2006 to 2019 — span most of (Daniel) Snyder’s tenure as owner and fall into two categories: unwelcome overtures or comments of a sexual nature, and exhortations to wear revealing clothing and flirt with clients to close sales deals. Among the men accused of harassment and verbal abuse are three former members of Snyder’s inner circle and two longtime members of the personnel department:
(Larry) Michael, senior vice president of content and “the voice of the Washington Redskins.” Seven former employees said Michael routinely discussed the physical appearance of female colleagues in sexual and disparaging overtones. In 2018, Michael was caught on a “hot mic” speaking about the attractiveness of a college-aged intern, according to six former employees who heard the recording. Michael declined an interview request and retired Wednesday.
(Alex) Santos, the club’s director of pro personnel, was accused by six former employees and two reporters who covered the team of making inappropriate remarks about their bodies and asking them if they were romantically interested in him. In 2019, Santos was the subject of an internal investigation after Rhiannon Walker, a reporter for The Athletic, informed club management Santos had pinched her, told her she had “an a** like a wagon,” and repeatedly asked her to date him, Walker said in an interview with The Post. Nora Princiotti, a reporter for The Ringer who formerly covered the team, also said in an interview that she was harassed by Santos. Santos, who was fired this past week, declined to comment.
Richard Mann II, assistant director of pro personnel, who in one text message obtained by the The Post told a female employee he and his colleagues debated whether her breasts had been surgically enhanced and in another text message told another female employee to expect an “inappropriate hug … And don’t worry that will be a stapler in my pocket, nothing else.” Mann, who also was fired last week, declined to comment.
Dennis Greene, former president of business operations, implored female sales staff to wear low-cut blouses, tight skirts and flirt with wealthy suite holders, according to five former employees, including Applegate. Greene’s 17-year career with the club ended in 2018 amid a scandal over the revelation he had sold access to Redskins cheerleaders — including attendance at a bikini calendar photo shoot in Costa Rica — as part of premium suite packages. Greene declined to comment.
Mitch Gershman, former chief operating officer, who Applegate said routinely berated her for trivial problems such as printer malfunctions while also complimenting her body. Two other former female employees supported Applegate’s account of her sexual harassment and verbal abuse by Gershman, who left the team in 2015.
All that can be said at the end of this explosive revelation, is that which name the franchise will run out of the tunnel to in shortly over a month of time, is seemingly now the least of their issues. Also, if anything can be said about how we’ve seen the NFL handle these situations in the past, remember that former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, was quite forced to sell the team after similar types of allegations came out regarding that organization. It will be an interesting next month to see where and how this new sordid NFL affair turns.