NFL Has Yet To Comply With Congressional Request to Hand Over Emails From Washington Football Team Investigation

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) requested via letter that the NFL turn over all documents related to the league’s investigation into the Washington Football Team’s (WFT) workplace misconduct by today.

As of 2 p.m. EST, the league had yet to do so, according to an official from the House Oversight and Reform Committee. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week that the league would “be cooperative” with the congressional request, however, has not cooperated with the document request which were outlined in the letter.

The letter points to reports that in the NFL’s investigation attorney Beth Wilkinson conducted more than 150 interviews and collected 650,000 emails and other documents. The league, to date, and despite numerous requests, has refused to make that information public.

“We have serious concerns about what appears to be widespread abusive workplace conduct at the WFT and about the NFL’s handling of this matter,” the letter states.

In addition, the representatives asked Goodell to explain why the NFL assumed oversight of Wilkinson’s investigation from the team and to describe in detail the NFL’s role in overseeing the investigation.

The letter comes after 10 former team employees sent a public letter to the chief executives of the league’s major sponsors, including Nike, Amazon and PepsiCo, requesting they demand the NFL release detailed findings from Wilkinson’s investigation.

Following reports in The Washington Post of allegations of widespread sexual harassment and mistreatment of female team employees during Daniel Snyder’s tenure as owner, the team hired Wilkinson in July 2020 to investigate. The following month, the NFL assumed oversight of her probe.

On July 1, 2021, the NFL announced the outcome of the WFT investigation in a press release, saying that “the workplace environment… particularly for women, was highly unprofessional,” that “[b]ullying and intimidation frequently took place,” and that “senior executives engaged in inappropriate conduct themselves.”

The scope of the investigation included Snyder’s role in the team’s toxic culture as well as an allegation of sexual misconduct against the team owner that resulted in a $1.6 million settlement with a female former employee. In a court filing, Snyder called the woman’s allegation “meritless,” asserting he settled only at the request of the team’s insurers.

The NFL fined the team $10 million and announced that Snyder’s wife, Tanya, who had assumed the role of co-CEO, would run day-to-day affairs for an unspecified amount of time. Criticism of the NFL’s lack of transparency, which included outrage among several former employees who had shared their experiences with Wilkinson, had largely subsided by the start of the NFL season. But it reignited in early October when emails Wilkinson obtained as part of her work, reported on by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, showed Jon Gruden making homophobic, misogynistic and racist remarks in a series of communications to then-Washington president Bruce Allen on his team email account. Gruden has since resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Maloney and Krishnamoorthi alluded to such skepticism in their letter, stating: “Communications between league management and WFT leadership also raise questions about the league’s asserted impartiality in these investigations,” they wrote. “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.”

Should the NFL respond, and the committee decide it isn’t satisfied with the NFL’s response, it could convene a hearing that would shine light on the league’s handling of its investigation into allegations of widespread sexual harassment. According to Krishnamoorthi, committee staffers have fielded calls from people who want to testify under oath.

“We have had a number of people call us — people with special knowledge related to this case — basically asking to testify,” Krishnamoorthi said in an interview. “So I think it’s fair to say that there is great interest in what happens.”

We will update you if, and/or when the NFL complies with the Congressional request.