To think that the least of this team’s problems involve the changing of their nickname. The Washington Redskins are a mess of an NFL franchise. There really is no other way to say it.
Their majority owner, Dan Snyder, has repeatedly turned a blind eye to the inner happenings of the team, letting repeated and senseless acts of sexual harassment happen under his watch, with only a recent Washington Post article bringing those heinous acts into the light.
This franchise is being run by Snyder, a much-maligned owner who has taken his control of the team to a height that apparently ‘exempts’ him from holding any sort of responsibility when it concerns the treatment of members of the team’s staff, and was run by former general manager Bruce Allen, who was fired at the end of 2019 after 10 years running the team.
While Snyder is at the forefront of the scrutiny now, Allen is not exempt from this either, although neither Snyder nor Allen were directly mentioned in statements from 15 women accusing the team of sexual harassment in the workplace. Regardless of if they were perpetrators or not, the fact still remains that these acts occurred under their tenures, making them responsible as well.
The Redskins, even with the current NFL season still hanging in the limbo, have had the worst offseason out of all teams across the league. However, the aspects that were recently brought to light, after having been kept down out of the eyes of the general public for much too long, need to be made sure that they never happen again for this team and throughout the rest of the league, and only through just and correct forms of punishments, that will hopefully occur.
The league has been notorious for choosing the wrong side in certain circumstances when things go south, yet they have the ball in their court yet again to try and make up for any shortcomings before this. While not needing to turn this into a publicity contest by any means, the league needs to carry out a very swift and prominent punishment on this franchise, but in a way that does not necessarily punish the players, which have not been caught up in any sort of these terrible events.
Here are five applicable punishment options that the league should minimally explore handing down to the Redskins.
Force Snyder into selling his majority stake
This would be the top option for the league to take, something along the lines that has proven successful in the NBA when former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was forced into after racist remarks to his ex-girlfriend were released. Sterling was fined $2.5 million and was forced into selling the team, which is now owned by Steve Balmer, the former CEO of Microsoft.
According to a Fox Business article, there is the ability, under Section 8.13 of the NFL’s constitution and bylaws, for the commissioner to force the owner in question to sell the team, but only after a vote is commenced by the remainder of the league’s owners.
“The commissioner can refer that recommendation to the executive committee of the league and then, with a three-quarters vote, the executive committee can strip an owner of a franchise if they feel like it’s warranted,” Jodi Balsam, a former NFL counsel and current associate professor of clinical law at Brooklyn Law School, told FOX Business.
The part that makes this element unlikely is the fact that Snyder has not been directly implicated in any of these accusations, showing that while they have occurred underneath his watch, his non-direct involvement in them may end up saving his role as majority owner.
But, if the league was looking to send a clear and concise message of having zero tolerance about sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace, then this would be the correct way to go.
Fine Snyder and the team and have all of that money be donated to a sexual harassment awareness charity
Another punishment that would be directed at Snyder, the idea of forcing Snyder to have lighter pockets would be a worthy path to take as well, although only sending a message that money can make serious things go away.
A likely option that the league will likely pursue, fining Snyder millions of dollars would represent a minor slap on the wrist for the owner, as he is very well-off and a fine would only constitute the fact that he and his team were caught doing something illegal, but nothing else.
Now, if that money were to be rerouted from the league and to a sexual harassment awareness charity, one like Futures Without Violence, then potentially the league would be putting ‘its money’ where ‘its mouth is,’ per se.
Take away the team’s first round draft picks for two seasons
An option that would penalize the lone element of this franchise that has not been an issue, stripping the team of first-round draft picks for two seasons would represent a bad look for the league, showing that on-field performance is the go-to source for all wins and losses, even if certain events happen off of the field.
Impacting the performance of the football team, which is quite bad already, would not be an efficient way to help drive home the punishment, but would be a very possible form of punishment that the league could end up taking.
Integrate sweeping changes into the front-office structure to help bring about change of the Redskins
This route would be one of the toughest for the league to take, as it would need to go in and remove each member that was directly implicated in these events. The team’s radio voice, Larry Michael, Redskins director of pro personnel Alex Santos, and former assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II were all fired or resigned recently after these allegations surfaced, making the list of implicated employees shorter for the league to concern themselves with.
Now, this is not to say that punishments for Michael, Santos, and Mann II should not follow them wherever they go, but the league would have fewer ways to punish them because they are not a member of the league in any operating capacity at this time.
The only way that this form of punishment would work is if the league was somehow able to use eminent domain for the team’s staffing, as well as having all 15 former female employees provide direct names of the guilty male members of the staff, so there are aspects of accountability that would commence.
Putting these women through moments of reliving just absolutely horrific, everyday life moments again in retellings of their stories is not something that the league should strive to do, but if even a few women are willing to go on record to put a name and a face to these allegations (and name personnel not previously named in these allegations), then the league would be able to act.
Mandate league-wide sexual harassment training seminars around the league, boosting awareness for how to handle these situations, and bringing to light how this should never happen
Regardless of which route the league takes against the Redskins, this is an element that the league should implement immediately, as it would be a good first step in making sure that any other instances of this same problem are gotten rid of or brought to light.
Various training programs can be implemented on a league-wide basis, or teams could potentially be told that they need to have a program in place by a certain date, which would represent a very hands-off approach by the league but something that would also represent a good first step, provided there is more to it.
While this idea would not directly punish the Redskins, bringing awareness to this problem would supersede any sort of punishment aspect, hopefully bringing these heinous acts to their ends, all while boosting the importance of a fully inclusive work environment.