Wednesday September 27, 2023

Lawyers For Commanders, Accusers Clash as Investigations Continue

  • A lawyer for the Commanders and owner Dan Snyder took to the airwaves on Friday.
  • Attorney for many of the accusers pushed back in a letter to another Snyder lawyer.
Snyder Sale
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports
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An attorney for the Washington Commanders and owner Dan Snyder took to the radio Friday, using the airtime to lay out Snyder’s side, as the region — and much of the NFL — waits for Congress to release its final findings after a nearly yearlong investigation. 

Lawyer John Brownlee gave multiple interviews on two major sports talk stations in the Washington, D.C., area. 

In between those interviews, attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent more than 40 former Commanders employees, pushed back. 

They wrote that they “demand” Tom Davis — another Snyder attorney — “immediately retract the false and defamatory statements” made against their three clients in his Wednesday letter.

“We also ask that your client immediately provide the [Beth] Wilkinson findings [from the NFL’s first investigation into the Commanders] to the Committee; waive all NDAs for current and former employees for purposes of speaking with the Committee; and offer full and unfettered access by the Committee to team information and documents,” Banks and Katz wrote. “Otherwise, Dan Snyder and the Washington Commanders should stop complaining about the evidentiary basis of the Committee’s investigation.”

The dueling letters and Sndyer’s push with the local media come as the House Oversight Committee is expected to release its final report on the investigation in the coming weeks. 

Many of the same allegations probed by Congress are also the focus of the NFL’s second independent investigation led by former SEC Chair Mary Jo White

Davis is a former chair of the House Oversight Committee. He wrote that current Oversight Committee chair Carolyn Maloney and the other Democrats in charge of the committee “will fail in its effort to push Mr. Snyder from the NFL.” 

“My only hope is that the American people — who are the ultimate judges — will see this investigation for what it is, a politically inspired hatchet job, and begin the process of removing the stain this investigation has placed on the Committee that I so respect and love,” Davis wrote. 

Beyond the three former Commanders employees, Davis in this letter and Brownlee in his radio interviews took aim at former team president Bruce Allen, who was deposed by Congress last month.

Allen was fired in December 2019 after a decade with the team — and Snyder’s attorneys lay much of the blame for the team’s alleged hostile workplace culture that led the NFL to fine the Commanders $10 million in July 2021 at the conclusion of Wilkinson’s investigation. 

Allen’s email exchanges with Gruden — when Gruden was an ESPN analyst — were published by The New York Times and Wall Street Journal last October. Those racist, misogynistic and homophoic emails from Allen’s team account led Gruden to resign as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. 

Gruden is suing the NFL, a case that is still pending in Nevada. Both the NFL and Snyder have denied they were the source of the leaked emails. 

“The repeated attempts by your client to blame former team president Bruce Allen for the toxic workplace culture will certainly fail,” Banks and Katz said. “While we have no knowledge whether Mr. Allen was a party to offensive emails, as your letter states, we do know that none of our clients has alleged that Mr. Allen played any role in the harassment or abuse they suffered or witnessed.

“In fact, most have never even met Mr. Allen. It is difficult to credit the team’s insistence that because Mr. Allen is gone, the problems with the team’s culture are in the past.  Due to the coordinated efforts of the team and the NFL to bury the findings of the Wilkinson investigation, we cannot know all of what happened, who was responsible, or whether those issues have been adequately addressed.”

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