NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday expressed his stance that the league appropriately handled the review and sanction of the Washington Football Team organization's improper workplace conduct.
The NFL fined the Washington franchise $10 million in July after the conclusion of the investigation into the team's workplace culture, led by independent counsel Beth Wilkinson, and Snyder has ceased being involved in day-to-day operations with the team, ceding daily functions to wife Tanya.
"I do think he's been held accountable for, I think the organization has been held accountable," Goodell said Tuesday, following the conclusion of the first day of the Fall League Meeting in New York. "And I think we've given an unprecedented fine. Dan Snyder has not been involved with the franchise for now almost four months. We, obviously, have focused more on making sure that the policies that they had, many of which they put into place prior to this investigation, but also coming out of it, were put into place and that they will be maintained, and that we can ensure that that will happen at this organization."
Put into place were semi-annual reporting obligations for the team in which it must show the progress of the club's implementation of protocols for reporting harassment, disciplinary action plans, regular culture surveys, harassment training and an expansion and empowerment of HR and legal.
The review has not been disclosed in full and Goodell said there was no written report on the Washington Football Team investigation and its findings to maintain security, privacy and anonymity.
"And that not only protects the investigation that you're going through, but it affects future investigations and the credibility of that," he said. "So, when you make a promise to protect the anonymity to make sure that we get the right information, you need to stand by that. And so we're very conscious of making sure that we're protecting those who came forth."
When asked if there was a way to release more info and still protect anonymity, Goodell reiterated he believes the review was handled in an appropriate manner, as was the punishment doled out.
"We don't think so," he said. "We feel that this is the appropriate way to do it. We summarized the findings of Beth and made it very clear that the workplace environment at the Washington Football Team was not what we expect in the NFL and then held them accountable for that."
On Thursday, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform sent a letter to Goodell requesting all documents and communication about the review into the workplace culture at the Washington Football Team by Nov. 4.
Goodell said the league will comply.
"We'll respond to Congress appropriately. So, we'll be cooperative. We've been in touch and we will certainly do that," he said.
Goodell spoke Tuesday evening, and earlier in the day, a copy of a letter from two former Washington Football Team members asking to make the review's report public was presented to NFL owners and members of the NFL Social Justice Working Group.
"I love for this to be a learning point, not just for the NFL, but for leagues and teams all across that this shouldn't be hidden," said Ana Nunez, who worked in the Washington Football Team's business department until 2019, via The Associated Press. "There shouldn't be, no workplace is perfect which is understandable, but there has to be a level of accountability when it comes to toxic culture and sexual harassment."
In light of what's transpired with the Washington franchise, Goodell was asked his level of concern that there might be a public perception that the league shielded an owner from full responsibility.
"I understand the media would like more transparency, I understand they would like more emails, but I think, from my standpoint we've been very firm about an importance of making sure that we got all the information. We made it clear that it was not a workplace environment that we feel was appropriate," he said. "So I think we achieved that. And I believe that the changes that are being made to that organization are consistent with what Beth thought were necessary to make sure that we did do that."
Other notes from Goodell's news conference:
- The league is not at a point in which it feels it has enough information on Deshaun Watson and the 22 pending civil suits against him to make a decision on placing the Houston Texans quarterback on the Commissioner's Exempt List, as investigations are still ongoing. "We don't feel that we have that necessary information at this point," Goodell said. As there are currently open police investigations, Goodell said, "we pride ourselves in not interfering in that."
- The commissioner reiterated that coaches and the league are staunchly in favor of penalties for taunting, which there has been an emphasis on. "I think this has been misrepresented a lot, is this is trying to control celebrations. It's not. This is about sportsmanship. This about making sure that it's done in a way that's respectful of your opponent. And make sure that it doesn't lead to some sort type of retaliation. Which is, I think what our coaches strongly feel. So, we believe this is the right thing to do. Yes, we're committed to it, we're gonna continue it," Goodell said.
- Goodell said there has been progress toward a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills and that he believes the current location in Orchard Park, New York is likely, but the best course is for local officials to make the final decision on locale.