The model that Roger Goodell’s NFL should use when it decides to discipline Daniel Snyder for his Animal House workplace is not Jerry Richardson, and it is not Donald Sterling. It is NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. It is somewhat immaterial in this case that Cuban is a championship owner and …
The model that Roger Goodell’s NFL should use when it decides to discipline Daniel Snyder for his Animal House workplace is not Jerry Richardson, and it is not Donald Sterling.
It is NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.
It is somewhat immaterial in this case that Cuban is a championship owner and good for his league and Snyder has presided over a franchise that hasn’t been able to identify the right front office, head coach and quarterback, among others… and had to be strong-armed into eliminating “Redskins” by immense corporate pressure.
Snyder’s likely saving grace, forget for a moment from the fact that his fellow good old boys NFL owners could, if they were somehow so inclined, force him to sell the team, is that he was not involved in the toxic sexual harassment and misogynic workplace environment that has given the league another black eye.
Neither was Cuban.
“I was heavily influenced by the fact that, after reading what was initially a much longer and detailed report from the investigators, Mark Cuban was never implicated in the misconduct,” Silver said at the time. “That was an important factor for me in making that decision. Should he have known, in many cases? Absolutely. But from the 215 witness interviews, over 1 million [documents], the clear picture that was presented was Mark was absentee from the business side of the organization. That was a critically important factor, and by no means though does that absolve him from responsibility.”
Of course it doesn’t.
It doesn’t absolve Snyder from showing the remorse that Cuban did afterwards, either.
“First, just an apology to the women involved, in a couple of cases they were assaulted,” Cuban said at the time.. “And not just to them, but to their families. Because this is not something that is just an incident and it’s over. It stays with people and stays with families, and I’m just sorry I didn’t see it. I didn’t recognize it. I just hope that out of this we will be better.”
After the league’s findings, Cuban donated $10 million to “organizations that are committed to supporting the leadership and development of women in the sports industry and combating domestic violence.” A league-wide confidential hotline was set up.
Cuban made sweeping changes to the organization: a new Chief Executive Officer, a new head of Human Resources, a Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, a head of Diversity & Inclusion, and a new General Counsel.
Silver warned of creating a dangerous precedent were he to suspend Cuban.
“If owners, shareholders, even a CEO — and Mark was not the CEO in this case — are going to be held accountable for the misconduct of others within their organizations, what’s the standard that I’m going to be setting going forward and how many suspensions therefore am I talking about?” Silver said.
The Richardson and Sterling cases are another matter.
Richardson, as Panthers founder and owner, was discovered to cover up his own sexual harassment with non-disclosure agreements and paid vows of silence. There was also a racial slur against an African-American scout. Richardson sold the team to David Tepper for $2.2 billion before the NFL concluded its investigation.
Sterling was banned for life and fined $2.5 million following the revelation of racist remarks he made on a recording. When independent neurologists ruled Sterling incompetent, his wife Shelly sold the Clippers six years ago to Steve Ballmer for a reported $2 billion.
Current Redskins head coach Ron Rivera was Richardson’s head coach for seven years. The Snyder bombshell exploded when former employee Emily Applegate and 14 other female employees anonymously spilled the beans on an environment rife with sexual harassment and misogyny. Several of Snyder’s former underlings have either quit or been fired, and a thorough review of the organization is under way by a D.C. law firm.
“We’re hoping to get people to understand that they need to judge us on where we are and where we’re going, as opposed to where we’ve been,” Rivera told the Washington Post.
In the interests of public safety during this powder keg protest movement in the country, the 13-foot-tall, 4,500-pound statue of Richardson outside Bank of America Stadium was removed last month.
Snyder is angling for a new stadium, and in the midst of a pandemic, when owners are bemoaning devastating salary cap repercussions and attempting to play a season that right now seems like an Impossible Dream, they have other more immediate big fish to fry.
Snyder deserves a hefty punishment, especially at a time when zero tolerance policies related to sex, race and religious ignorance must be addressed with action more than obligatory lip service. There is a clause that permits Goodell to force an owner to sell if he or she is “guilty of conduct detrimental to the welfare of the league or professional football.”
If 20 years of mostly dysfunction and incompetence hasn’t done the trick, perhaps nothing will, aside from the fact that Snyder’s influential power broker ally Jerry Jones would love to keep competing against him forever.
If Snyder should win his quest for a new stadium, this much is certain: he won’t have a statue outside it. He damn well better not.