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Commissioner Roger Goodell Says NFL Will Not Release Emails From Washington Football Team Investigation
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 20: Roger Goodell speaks onstage during the Robin Hood Benefit at Jacob Javits Center on October 20, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Robin Hood Foundation)
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Robin Hood Foundation

Amid pressure to release the more than 650,000 emails reviewed during the Washington Football Team workplace misconduct investigation, commissioner Roger Goodell says that the NFL has no intention of betraying accusers who wish to remain anonymous. 

“We’re very conscious of making sure that we’re protecting those who came forward,” Goodell said Tuesday. “They were incredibly brave, incredibly open, and we respect the pain that they probably went through all over again to come forward. And so that was a very high priority for us.”

On Wednesday, Lisa Banks and Debra Katz — two attorneys who represented many of the women interviewed during the investigation — sent a letter to Goodell stating that their clients do in fact want a written report of the investigation made public.  

“Let us be clear: Our clients do not wish any further ‘protection’ from you by withholding this report,” part of the letter says according to The Athletic. “Instead, they urge you to receive a written report of the findings of the investigation from Beth Wilkinson, take whatever steps necessary to ensure the for those who desire it, and make that report public.”

The investigation into the Washington Football Team concluded in July, with the NFL finding a “highly unprofessional” work environment, particularly for women. 

“Bullying and intimidation frequently took place and many described the culture as one of fear,” the NFL said in a statement, “and numerous female employees reported having experienced sexual harassment and a general lack of respect in the workplace.”

As a result of the findings, team owner Dan Snyder has not been a part of team activities, with his wife — Tanya Snyder — taking over the daily operations of the team. The Football Team was also fined $10 million. 

“I do think he’s been held accountable,” Goodell said about Snyder. “The organization has been held accountable. I think we did an unprecedented fine. Dan Snyder has not been involved with the organization for almost four months.”

In mid-October, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times obtained leaked emails from the investigation, in which then-head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden, was found to use racially insensitive and homophobic language. Gruden eventually resigned as the NFL and Raiders condemned the language used in the emails. 

Following Gruden’s resignation, calls to release the remainder of the emails from the investigation intensified. 

DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director and a subject of Gruden’s emails, told USA Today that the players association planned on requesting the release of the emails. 

“We have had communications with the league, and the NFLPA plans to request that the NFL release the rest of the emails,” Smith said. 

Smith went on “The Right Time with Bomani Jones” podcast and said that he was interested to see if the emails contained language that shows a racial bias from teams when they are making hiring decisions.

“What I’m interested in — is there correspondence that suggests teams are making decisions about coaches based on the color of their skin?” Smith said. “Are they actively hostile to players that have chosen to self-identify in various ways? Are they denigrating of people based on sexual preference or religious identity?

Last week, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell requesting all documents from the investigation by November 4. 

“The NFL has one of the most prominent platforms in America, and its decisions can have national implications,” they said in the letter. “The NFL’s lack of transparency about the problems it recently uncovered raises questions about the seriousness with which it has addressed bigotry, racism, sexism and homophobia — setting troubling precedent for other workplaces.”

“The committee is seeking to fully understand this workplace conduct and the league’s response, which will help inform legislative efforts to address toxic work environments and workplace investigation processes; strengthen protections for women in the workplace and address the use of non-disclosure agreements to prevent the disclosure of unlawful employment practices, including sexual harassment. We hope and trust that the NFL shares the committee’s goal of protecting American workers from harassment and discrimination.”

This article has been expanded after publication to include additional information.

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to [email protected].

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