Thoughts on the Washington Redskins harassment scandal

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LANDOVER, MD – AUGUST 26: The Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is seen before the game between the Washington Redskins and the Buffalo Bills at FedExField on August 26, 2016 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins defeated the Jets 22-18. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

Dan Snyder’s role

Some theorized, ahead of the article’s release, that if Dan Snyder was documented as having participated in sexual harassment among his co-workers, he could be forced by Roger Goodell to sell the team.

Snyder was not implicated specifically in the report, however. There was a passing mention of juvenile behavior from Snyder, as well as an assumption that he knew of his team’s cultural inadequacies. But aside from this, we come out of this reading not only lacking an indictment of Snyder, but also lacking clarity on whether he even knew about harassment taking place.

But contrary to the next logical progression, Snyder does not come out of this with clean hands.

One can, in fact, reasonably assume that Snyder had some awareness regarding the team’s harassment culture. Two members of his inner circle, Mitch Gershman and Dennis Greene, were named as specific instigators, and even Snyder himself was documented as perhaps encouraging that kind of environment, by teasing Greene about his past as a male cheerleader.

One can assume that Snyder had some indication to what was happening. But let’s pretend he didn’t. Some have alleged that Snyder didn’t know, to perhaps strike a chord of sympathy for the oft-maligned owner. But Snyder not knowing is almost just as bad.

When Snyder bought the Washington Redskins franchise and became owner, he inherited a duty to spearhead the construction of a culture, and provide careful oversight of that culture. Everything trickles downward in a corporate culture; studies on Enron will tell you that. This cultural norm had to be repeated and reinforced for years on end, and if not exacerbated by the owner, then at least condoned.

If Snyder didn’t know, it means many things. It means he was startlingly unaware of events happening inside his own building, among his closest confidants. It means he may have been unaware because of his deep immersion into this toxic culture, helping to indoctrinate the organization. And perhaps most importantly, it means that he failed in his duty as owner, not only to provide a winning product on the field, but to preserve precious moral values off of it.

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