ESPN has interviewed on camera four former Washington employees who are among more than 40 claiming sexual harassment while working for the Washington Football Team. Most of them made clear their belief that the end result of the current investigation sparked by the allegations should be a change at the top.
“Well, it’s certainly not about making a hire or changing a policy,” attorney Lisa Banks, who represents more than a dozen former Washington employees, told Jeremy Schaap of ESPN. “The tone, the culture comes from the top. And here, I don’t see us having meaningful change without a change in ownership.”
“He’s 100 percent responsible,” former Washington director of marketing Rachel Engleson. “100 percent.”
Regardless of responsibility for past incidents, can Snyder change?
“He’s incapable of it,” former Washington cheerleader Tiffany Scourby said. “As long as he’s part of the organization, as long as he’s leading it, nothing’s going to change.”
Another former employee said that Snyder’s reaction to last week’s Washington Post story that directly implicated him in the misconduct — he called it a “hit job” — shows that he won’t change.
“I think we should remove him,” former Washington intern Alicia Klein said. “I felt powerless when I was there. I felt like, you know, nobody was going to do it. And now I’m sure they’re scared. If we’re scared about coming forward I’m sure they’re scared about what’s going to happen to them. Their time is up. It’s our time now to tell our stories and to show how strong we are. They’re the ones who should be ashamed of what happened and they’re the ones who should be scared.”
Ultimately, that’s a call for the league to make. Indications are that, after initially sending signals that the allegations would be downplayed or excused, the NFL is taking the situation more seriously. It’s possible that other owners fear facing similar scrutiny in the future; if the ongoing investigation makes it clear that Washington’s situation was far worse than any other team ever was or could have been, the apparent lack of interest in taking extreme action could change.