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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Congress Eyes WFT Hearing Near Super Bowl Weekend

  • The House Oversight and Reform Committee has sought info from the NFL for months.
  • A final decision on whether to call a hearing has not been made by committee leadership.
Design: Alex Brooks

The congressional committee probing the NFL’s handling of the Washington Football Team’s toxic workplace investigation is considering holding a hearing around the same time as the upcoming Super Bowl, sources told Front Office Sports.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee and the NFL have basically been at a standstill since October when the committee first sought information in the aftermath of leaked emails from the investigation that led to Jon Gruden’s abrupt resignation as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.

The leaders of the committee haven’t decided whether a hearing and/or subpoenas could be in the offing. One source with knowledge of the matter told FOS that “all options are on the table.”

Multiple potential witnesses, however, have been asked if dates around Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13 were workable for a hearing, FOS has learned, presenting a potential conflict on the NFL’s biggest weekend.

The same chamber has called hearings related to professional sports, including on steroids in Major League Baseball.

In one of those hearings in 2008, seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens faced lying to Congress charges over his sworn testimony. Clemens was eventually acquitted on all charges. 

In December 2012, the committee — then led by since-retired Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) — held a hearing on why the NFL wasn’t testing players for HGH during the season. The NFL and the NFLPA eventually agreed to implement game-day testing in 2014. 

Current Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y) along with Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) have attempted to leverage news coverage to pressure the NFL. 

The latest attempt to get the NFL to turn over documents related to the investigation came in a news release on Dec. 14, hours after The Washington Post reported team owner Dan Snyder attempted to interfere with the investigation led by former assistant U.S. attorney Beth Wilkinson.

“To get to the bottom of this story, NFL must immediately turn over all evidence of Snyder’s interference and the other documents we requested over a month ago,” Maloney and Krishnamoorthi wrote in the news release. 

A spokesperson for the Oversight Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters on Dec. 15 that Snyder’s alleged attempts to impede Wilkinson’s investigation had no impact on her or her firm’s work. 

“The one thing I can say with a hundred percent assurance is that it didn’t interfere with the work that our investigator did,” Goodell said. “We were able to access all the people that she wanted to access, and have multiple conversations with those people. There’s always a little bit of a tug and a pull with particular lawyers and law firms. That’s something that I think we were able to overcome and make sure that we came to the right conclusion.”

The NFL didn’t release a written report when its findings from Wilkinson’s investigation were made public and the Washington Football Team was fined $10 million on July 1. Dan Snyder was not suspended, although he decided to step down from day-to-day operations to focus on finding a site for a new stadium. His wife, Tanya Snyder, stepped into that role as co-CEO. 

“We continue to cooperate with the Committee,” NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told FOS on Monday. “Out of respect for the Committee and its ongoing process, we will decline to comment further.”

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