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As some other season kicks off Sunday for the Washington Soccer Staff, a depressing cloud hangs over the franchise after an offseason of alternate and turmoil.
The NFL investigation of Daniel Snyder and his group based on allegations of rampant sexual misconduct and mistreatment of feminine staff stays ongoing. Because it does, two urgent questions swirl round Snyder.
Will the league deem the findings of the investigation egregious sufficient to pressure Snyder to promote the workforce? And if Snyder does organize to retain possession, is he in a position to converting each his oppressive management taste and dramatically remodeling the tradition of the franchise?
At the box, Washington is present process but some other reset as a Three-13 2019 marketing campaign ended in but some other training group of workers and entrance administrative center overhaul. The workforce nonetheless doesn’t have an identify after Snyder agreed to drop its long-held moniker after years of objections got here to a head.
However what has outlined the group in fresh months is the smog of allegations of long-running mistreatment towards feminine staff all over his 21-year tenure.
Without reference to the findings of the probe – at first ordered via Snyder following an explosive Washington Put uprecord wherein 15 ladies who previously labored for the group mentioned they had been sexually careworn – there’s one one who merits blame for the deterioration of the franchise.
His heavy-handed tactics have ended in perpetual futility at the soccer box and what some have described as an oppressive and toxic paintings surroundings at the trade aspect.
Washington proprietor Daniel Snyder and his spouse Tanya glance on as head trainer Ron Rivera speaks all over his introductory press convention at Inova Sports activities Efficiency Heart. (Photograph: Brad Generators, USA TODAY Sports activities)
In statements launched after each and every Put uparticle, he claimed to had been “too hands-off” through the years however vowed to put in force alternate.
However many that have hung out inside the group say Snyder fostered a poisonous tradition via insulating himself from his staff and directing executives to do his bidding.
Present and previous staff inform stories of Snyder’s management taste and his petty tactics, together with his call for that staff best seek advice from him as Mr. Snyder and abstain from making eye touch with him must they go him within the hallways.
“Management begins on the most sensible, and I unquestionably suppose there was once an immediate line down. Personnel participants had been berated day by day,” former Washington worker Megan Imbert, who labored as a video manufacturer from 2006-11, informed USA TODAY Sports activities. “Other folks had been referred to as names always. It was once an atmosphere the place if you happen to’re no longer cursing, you’re no longer operating. You’d pay attention other people yelling ceaselessly about one thing.
“An excessively, very bad stress. Impatience and sizzling tempers and ‘What have you ever executed for me in recent times?’ mentality, paintings in point of fact exhausting, insane hours and also you by no means really feel such as you had been doing sufficient. That was once the force from management, and I do imagine that (executives) had been feeling that from someplace, and what’s the average thread there? Mr. Snyder.”
In the meantime, there was once no recourse for grievances, Imbert mentioned.
“HR was once no longer a concern,” Imbert mentioned. “We had nobody to visit.”
If Snyder didn’t know what was once occurring in his group, it’s going to had been as a result of he did not care to grasp. However that excuse is tricky to imagine given Snyder fraternized with lots of the executives accused of sexual misconduct.
One individual informed The Put up compilation of secret videos of cheerleaders in varying stages of undress was compiled at Snyder’s request, which Snyder has denied. And other forms of sexual misconduct took place right under Snyder’s nose and even across from his office, according to Toni Lightfoot Stugard, who worked as a travel coordinator for the organization from 2004-05.
Stugard told USA TODAY Sports she experienced a year’s worth of alleged unwanted sexual advances, as well as a dismissive response to her complaints.
Then-defensive line coach Greg Blache regularly would come into her office, just feet away from Snyder’s, and close the door and make lewd comments and proposition her about getaways, Stugard alleged.
Finally, upon her brother’s insistence that she report the matter to human resources, Stugard asked a clerical assistant in the HR department for advice on how to handle the situation, she said.
“I talked to her because I didn’t want anyone to think it was going on,” Stugard said, “and she said, ‘This is just how it is in the NFL. Shrug it off and he’ll find someone else.’ And a week later, (human resources director) Cory Schreckengost comes in and shuts the door and said, ‘This will be your last day. We feel you are not a fit with the Washington Redskins any longer,’ and I had to pack my things up and leave. I was in tears. I didn’t understand. I was good. I was praised all the time. But almost to the day a week later, I was fired.”
Schreckengost, who no longer works for the team, didn’t respond to a request for an interview. Blache, when reached by telephone and asked about the matter, laughed, said “no comment” and hung up. Snyder, through a team spokesman, declined to comment on the matter, saying that the ongoing investigation prevents the team from discussing it.
The responses and the way in which Stugard said she was dismissed align with what other former employees, four of whom requested anonymity because they either feared repercussions or didn’t want to be publicly tied to the organization’s turmoil, told USA TODAY Sports.
The employees said they were told they are in positions of privilege, and if they are unhappy, “thousands” of other eager candidates could replace them.
“One thing that’s really evident with the stories from the women that are coming forward is that these all span from different times during (Snyder’s) leadership, and they’re from different departments, so I think that’s really telling of how pervasive it was throughout the organization,” Imbert said. “And, ultimately, a responsible leader takes accountability for what goes on in their organization, and we’ve never seen that accountability. We’ve seen deflection, gaslighting. … So, from my perspective, (Snyder) has had over two decades to show us who he is as a leader. We’ve seen it on the field, and now everyone is getting to see behind the scenes.”
Snyder has pointed to the hiring of Ron Rivera as coach, Julie Donaldson as senior VP of media and Jason Wright as team president as evidence of his commitment to change the team’s culture.
But some former employees question whether Snyder and his team are truly invested.
“That’s baloney,” Stugard said in response to Snyder’s statements. “He doesn’t care. Any owner who doesn’t let you look at them and say good morning does not care about his employees.”
Imbert and other former employees agreed.
They raised questions about Snyder’s sincerity after observing what they described as contradictory disciplinary action around the time The Post published its reports. In July, Snyder fired director of pro personnel Alex Santos and assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II amid allegations of sexual harassment later detailed in the initial story. Yet former senior vice president of media Larry Michael — a member of Snyder’s inner circle — was allowed to retire one day prior to The Post’s first report. Former team employees told The Post in the second story that Michael instructed staff members to compile the video of lewd outtakes from cheerleader photo shoots.
Said Imbert: “I feel that Mr. Snyder’s character is showing in recent history with the way he responded after the August article with his initial statement.”
On Sunday, Rivera and the members of the Washington Football Team will begin a quest for improvement on the field. Meanwhile, Wright has begun work to try to change the organization at its core.
But as Snyder remains at the helm, and until the investigation concludes and a determination is reached on what (if any) disciplinary action is required, the Washington Football Team very well could be simply going through the motions again.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones and concentrate to the Soccer Jones podcast on iTunes.