WASHINGTON — Two House Democrats on Thursday pressed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to provide Congress with the findings of the league’s investigation into the Washington Football Team’s workplace and details of the NFL’s handling of the probe, adding to pressure already on league officials in the wake of leaked emails containing misogynistic and racist language.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., sent a five-page letter asking Goodell to produce by Nov. 4 “all documents and communications obtained in connection with the investigation into the WFT, its management, its owners, and any other matter relating to or resulting from the WFT investigation.”

The letter points specifically to reports that Wilkinson conducted more than 150 interviews and collected 650,000 emails and other documents during her investigation. The NFL has refused to make that information public.

“We have serious concerns about what appears to be widespread abusive workplace conduct at the WFT and about the NFL’s handling of this matter,” the letter states.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy acknowledged receipt of the chairwoman’s letter and said the league shared her concern that “all workplaces should be free from any form of harassment and discrimination.” Asked if the NFL planned to provide the requested documents to Congress, McCarthy replied via email: “We look forward to speaking to her office soon.”

In addition, the two representatives asked Goodell to explain why the NFL assumed oversight of attorney Beth Wilkinson’s investigation from the team, which initially retained her, and describe in detail the NFL’s role in overseeing the investigation.

The letter comes one week after 10 former team employees sent a public letter to the chief executives of the league’s major sponsors, including Nike, Amazon and PepsiCo, requesting they demand the NFL release detailed findings from the Wilkinson investigation.

Following Washington Post reports of allegations of widespread sexual harassment and mistreatment of female team employees during Snyder’s tenure as owner, Wilkinson was hired by the team in July 2020 to investigate. The following month, the NFL assumed oversight of her probe.

In announcing the conclusion of the nearly year-long investigation in July, the NFL released no public report, saying that Wilkinson had not submitted a written report but shared her findings verbally. The scope of the investigation spanned Snyder’s role in the team’s toxic culture, as well as an allegation of sexual misconduct against Snyder that resulted in a $1.6 million settlement with a female former employee. In a court filing, Snyder called the woman’s allegation “meritless,” asserting that he settled only at the request of the team’s insurers.

The NFL fined the team $10 million and announced that Tanya Snyder, who had assumed the role of co-CEO, would run day-to-day affairs for an unspecified time while Daniel Snyder would work on stadium issues.

Criticism of the NFL’s lack of transparency, which included outrage among several former employees who told their stories to Wilkinson, had largely subsided by the start of the current NFL season. But it reignited in early October when emails Wilkinson obtained as part of her work, reported on by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, showed Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden making racist and homophobic remarks in a series of communications to then-WFT president Bruce Allen on his team email account.

Gruden has since resigned. Allen, who was fired for unrelated reasons in December 2019, has declined requests for comment.

A subsequent New York Times story revealed email exchanges between NFL general counsel Jeff Pash and Allen that predated the Wilkinson investigation but, in the view of some, suggested that Pash could not be an impartial broker in an NFL investigation into the team.

Reps. Maloney and Krishnamoorthi allude to such skepticism in their letter.

“Communications between league management and WFT leadership also raise questions about the league’s asserted impartiality in these investigations,” they wrote, adding: “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 — setting troubling precedent for other workplaces.”

(1) comment

threecents

I would really like congress to focus on running the country, rather than overseeing the NFL's overseeing of a private investigation of the WFT's culture.

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