WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Washington Post’s extensive reporting on years of sexual harassment and verbal abuse directed at female employees, and ignored or condoned by top executives within Washington’s football organization is shocking, but not surprising. The culture of contempt for women, violence against women, and disregard for women’s safety has long been a blight on the NFL.
Team owner Daniel Snyder has done the easy part by issuing a statement designed to deal with today’s headlines, but we’re watching to see what his team—and the NFL do moving forward. We’ve seen these empty words and promises before. Too often, sports teams and leagues have proven that profit is their sole priority. They see this as a PR problem they think they can fix by shuffling their staff, hiring lawyers, and making vague promises to do better in the future.
NOW has long spoken out against the NFL’s culture that treats women—whether they’re cheerleaders, team staff, or intimate partners of players—as sex objects, playthings, or targets of abuse. But the league persists with half-measures, empty gestures and circling the wagons–as Daniel Snyder is doing by hiring the same lawyer Brett Kavanaugh retained to defend him against charges of sexual assault to conduct a review of the team’s culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct.
Washington’s football team thinks it can erase decades of racism by changing its name, and decades of sexism by firing a few executives. But women—who are pro football’s fastest growing fan demographic—won’t settle for window dressing. The toxic culture has to change—today. Enough is enough.