WASHINGTON — It's not every day you see a cursing coach storm out of a press conference after he's just recorded a win. But after taking a few routine questions on the Washington Commander's 12-7 victory over the Chicago Bears Thursday night, coach Ron Rivera got heated when the focus turned to off-field behavior.
Commanders owner Dan Snyder made headlines once again, this time in the form of a lengthy ESPN report released on game-day morning, painting an ugly picture of Snyder's attempts to blackmail his way into ensuring he remains an owner by hiring private investigators to dig up dirt on his fellow owners. The report, citing numerous anonymous sources, goes on to claim he recently told an associate he had gathered enough secrets to "blow up" several other owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell, adding "they can't f with me."
The report got dragged into Thursday's game broadcast when play-by-play announcer Al Michaels said: “Just my feeling, I think what the league would love is for Snyder to sell the team. Not have to go to a vote, but just sell the team. Because it’s become a major problem around the league, obviously. And we’ll see what happens. I think it’s got a long way to go, and Dan, very well known for digging his heels into the ground.”
When Rivera was asked whether the report and the in-game focus on it had impacted his day, he made it clear his focus and attention were firmly on his players n the locker room.
“They’ve played their (butts) off. They have,” Rivera said about his team. “They come out and show up. They work hard. They don’t complain. They hear all this stuff and they got to deal with it. I get that. I respect them for it. They’re resilient. They come back.
But it was evident Rivera had read, or been briefed on, the ESPN report, particularly when he began talking about his relationship with quarterback Caron Wentz.
"Everybody keeps wanting to say I didn’t want anything to do with Carson. ... I’m the .... guy that pulled out the sheets of paper, that looked at the analytics, and watched the tape when we were in Indianapolis (at the combine)," Rivera said, getting increasingly more animated. "That’s what pisses me off because the young man doesn’t deserve to have that all the time.”
That's when the coach decided he'd said enough, turning quickly toward the exit as he said, "I'm sorry, I'm done," and left.
Rivera also found his press conference answers ruffling feather the week prior when he blamed quarterback Carson Wentz for the team being last in the NFC East.
The Commanders have categorically denied all claims made in the ESPN report, releasing detailed responses to 12 questions from ESPN's article.
“It’s hard to imagine a piece that is more categorically untrue, and is clearly part of a well-funded, two-year misinformation campaign to coerce the sale of the team, which will continue to be unsuccessful" a team spokesperson said in response to questions about the veracity of ESPN's reporting.
WUSA9 spoke with one of Snyder's attorneys, John Brown, Thursday to address one of the claims in the report that Snyder had instructed his legal team to track the movements of other NFL owners by hiring PIs.
"We've represented them about 18 months," Brown said. "Never in that time period, have we been asked to retain a private investigator to do anything if for any reason, and we never have."
Brown also gave an emphatic "no" answer when asked if Snyder has ever considered selling the team and living a private life.
WATCH MORE: WUSA9 speaks with an attorney for Snyder, addressing the claim he's hired PIs to track other NFL owners.
WATCH MORE: If the Commanders were to be sold, would that revive talks of a new stadium complex to be built in Northern Virginia?
WATCH MORE: Former Commanders employees who are part of the investigation into Snyder respond to the latest allegations against the owner.
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