Two members of Congress sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday requesting information and documents pertaining to the league’s investigation of a toxic work culture within the Washington Football Team.
In the letter, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-IL, express concerns about the NFL’s handling of the WFT investigation, which lasted nearly a year but did not result in a written report.
They also asked that the league turn over “all documents and communications obtained in connection with the investigation” to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform by Nov. 4.
“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,” Reps. Maloney and Krishnamoorthi wrote in part of the letter.
“Communications between league management and WFT leadership also raise questions about the league’s asserted impartiality in these investigations. In addition, we are deeply troubled by the reported use of non-disclosure agreements to potentially conceal inappropriate behavior, including conduct that is prohibited by federal laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.”
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy confirmed to USA TODAY Sports that the league had received the letter from Rep. Maloney, the chair of the House committee, and said the NFL “(shares) her concern that all workplaces should be free from any form of harassment and discrimination.”
“We look forward to speaking to her office soon,” McCarthy wrote in an email.
The WFT probe has come under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks after The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported on a batch of 650,000 emails that investigators uncovered as part of their work – some of which included racist, homophobic and misogynistic language.
The reported email exchanges span from 2011 to 2018 and primarily involve then-Washington executive Bruce Allen and then-ESPN broadcaster Jon Gruden. Gruden later signed a $100 million contract to become the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. He resigned from that job earlier this month when the emails came to light.
The New York Times reported that another group of the emails illustrated a cozy relationship between Allen and NFL general counsel Jeff Pash – who, as the league’s top lawyer, is ultimately responsible for overseeing investigations such as the one into the WFT.
The WFT probe, led by attorney Beth Wilkinson and her law firm, began in 2020 after a series of reports from The Washington Post. More than a dozen female employees told the newspaper that they were sexually harassed or verbally abused while working for the team under the ownership of Daniel Snyder.
Washington hired Wilkinson to investigate the team’s culture, but the NFL later assumed control of the probe. It concluded that the culture within the team was “highly unprofessional” and issued a series of sanctions – including a $10 million fine.
While the league summarized the findings of the WFT probe in a news release, it declined to solicit or release a written report from Wilkinson, citing confidentiality concerns. And it has offered few additional details in the months since.
After the Gruden emails were reported, however, some of the women who spoke to investigators have called on the league to release the 650,000 emails it obtained, as well as a more detailed report on the findings of the probe. The NFLPA has also urged the league to release the emails. The NFL has given no indication it will do so.
Now, two members of Congress are asking for those emails – as well as additional information about the WFT investigation, and the NFL’s handling of it.
The letter from Reps. Maloney and Krishnamoorthi also seeks information about how the league handles confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements more broadly. The Congresspeople ask, among other things, that the NFL provide a list of all such agreements reported to or orchestrated by the league since Jan. 1, 2016, “including the names of the teams involved, dates of the agreements, and whether the agreements resulted from allegations of discrimination and retaliation.”
Contact Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.