WASHINGTON — The House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing Wednesday to examine the Washington Commanders' alleged "hostile workplace culture" spanning two decades and the NFL's handling of the allegations. Hours before the hearing began, the committee shared a new memo on team owner Dan Snyder's purported role in creating that environment and his apparent efforts to discredit victims and witnesses by launching a “shadow investigation” to influence the NFL's internal investigation into workplace misconduct allegations.
"For more than two decades, Dan Snyder refused to protect the women who worked for him from the toxic culture he created," Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said in her opening statement. "The NFL has also failed to protect these women. Now I believe it is up to Congress to protect them, and millions more like them."
On Wednesday, legislators heard testimony from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling the team culture toxic and unprofessional, documenting instances of "bullying, widespread disrespect toward colleagues, use of demeaning language, public embarrassment and harassment." Goodell also alleged that Snyder had hidden from the league a 2009 settlement with a former team employee who accused him of sexual assault.
"No one should experience workplaces like the one described, especially not in the National Football League," Goodell said in his opening statement. “The Commanders had a woefully deficient HR function, particularly with respect to reporting practices and recordkeeping."
However, Goodell has made it clear the NFL would not issue a report on the investigation because of its promise to protect the identities of those who testified.
"I have a lot of constituents who are victims of this culture and they have all asked for the Wilkinson report to be released," Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said, urging Goodell to reconsider.
Goodell proceeded to be grilled for two hours by Democratic lawmakers over the NFL's handling of its investigation into Snyder and the team. The House Oversight Committee launched its investigation in October 2021, following the NFL's refusal to release the findings of an internal investigation, led by D.C. attorney Beth Wilkinson, into workplace misconduct and harassment allegations levied against Snyder and some of his front office staff in 2020. The committee said it has reviewed thousands of documents, conducted interviews and depositions with former Commanders employees and held a roundtable discussion with accusers and witnesses over the last eight months.
But a key voice has continued to be missing from the conversation. A placard bearing Dan Snyder's name placed in front of an empty chair of a microphone further highlighted Snyder's absence. The owner repeatedly declined to attend the hearing, citing scheduling conflicts. The only representation of Snyder's opinions came in the form of a statement from his spokesperson.
"It is clear the outcome of the House Oversight Committee's investigation into the Washington Commanders was predetermined from the beginning," a spokesperson for Dan Snyder said of the hearing. "The committee's decision to release a 'report' and introduce legislation prior to the hearing is proof-positive this was always going to be little more than a politically-charged show trial, not about uncovering the truth. Hopefully, the committee will use its resources going forward for more pressing national matters, instead of an issue a football team addressed years ago."
Instead, Maloney announced her intent to subpoena Snyder for a committee deposition.
"Mr. Snyder's refusal to testify sends a clear signal that he is more concerned about protecting himself than coming clean to the American public," Maloney said. "If the NFL is unwilling to hold Mr. Snyder accountable, then I am prepared to do so."
Ultimately, Goodell said he felt the Commanders’ culture issues had been dealt with by the NFL and handled appropriately. He said the league had done its job conducting an independent investigation and issuing fines against the team and its leaders.
Several Republican members of the committee jumped on that line, questioning the hearing's purpose.
"I’m not going to use my time as a member of Congress to get into this when [Goodell] says Snyder has been held accountable," Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said.
Donalds went as far as to call it a "show hearing" pointing to the empty spot set for Snyder, despite the committee knowing he wouldn't be in attendance.
Moments after the hearing, Tanya and Dan Snyder, along with team president Jason Wright sent out a letter to members of their organization, obtained by WUSA9, about the progress the franchise has made since 2020.