October 22, 2021

Congressional Leaders Ask N.F.L. for Documents From Washington Team Inquiry

Two members of Congress have asked the N.F.L. for documents related to the league’s investigation of widespread harassment and misconduct within the Washington Football Team, raising the possibility that more of the 650,000 emails captured in that inquiry may be disclosed.

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, the chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, sent a nine-page letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday, asking for information about the “hostile workplace culture” at the team and the league’s handling of the matter.

“The N.F.L. has one of the most prominent platforms in America, and its decisions can have national implications,” Maloney and Krishnamoorthi wrote. “The N.F.L.’s lack of transparency about the problems it recently uncovered raise questions about the seriousness with which it has addressed bigotry, racism, sexism, and homophobia — setting troubling precedent for other workplaces.”

The two, both Democrats, added that their committees want “to fully understand this workplace conduct” to help them craft legislation designed to “address toxic work environments and workplace investigation processes.”

Brian McCarthy, an N.F.L. spokesman, said the league had received the letter and, referring to Maloney, said that it shared “her concern that all workplaces should be free from any form of harassment and discrimination. We look forward to speaking to her office soon.”

On July 1, the N.F.L. fined Washington $10 million after its yearlong investigation into rampant culture of sexual harassment perpetuated by managers and executives at the club under the ownership of Daniel Snyder.

Snyder was ordered to remove himself from the day-to-day business operations of the club for several months, and Vestry Laight, a firm that works with companies to address misconduct, was hired to provide the league with updates on the team’s human resources practices for the next two years.

While the penalties were some of the harshest levied against an N.F.L. team, the league did not ask for a written report of the findings by Beth Wilkinson, a lawyer based in Washington who led the investigation. Instead, she shared her findings in an oral presentation that formed the basis of the league’s decision to penalize the team.

This led critics to speculate that the team and league were trying to hide evidence of wrongdoing. Last week, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal published internal emails written and received by Bruce Allen, a former team president, that were filed with racist, homophobic and misogynistic language, leading to calls by women’s advocacy groups and others for the league to release all of the 650,000 emails gathered in the investigation.

Dozens of emails between Allen, the former Las Vegas Raiders Coach Jon Gruden and other men included homophobic, misogynistic and racist remarks over several years to denigrate people around the game and to mock some of the league’s recent changes. Gruden denounced the emergence of women as referees, the drafting of an openly gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem, according to emails reviewed by The Times. Gruden resigned soon after the content of the emails was published.

Those emails include hundreds of exchanges between Allen and Jeff Pash, the league’s general counsel, showing that the two men had a particularly friendly relationship. These and other emails “raised questions about the league’s impartiality in conducting internal investigations,” Maloney and Krishnamoorthi wrote.

In their letter, they asked the league for all documents and communications obtained in the investigation of the team; all documents and notes related to the oral reports presented to the league; and all N.F.L. policies and procedures related to the use of nondisclosure agreements by the league and its teams.

The league was asked to provide this information by Nov. 4.