A former Washington Football Team executive instructed employees to create a behind-the-scenes video for owner Daniel Snyder featuring clips of partially nude team cheerleaders pulled from a 2008 swimsuit calendar shoot, The Washington Post is reporting.
Brad Baker, who previously worked for former senior vice president and lead broadcaster Larry Michael, told the Post in an interview that Michael told members of his staff to make the video for Snyder. Michael denied the allegations when reached by the Post.
“Larry said something to the effect of, ‘We have a special project that we need to get done for the owner today: He needs us to get the good bits of the behind-the-scenes video from the cheerleader shoot onto a DVD for him,'” Baker told the Post.
Snyder issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying he was “unaware” of the allegations in the Post story and denying any knowledge of “10-year-old videos.”
“I did not request their creation and I never saw them,” said Snyder, who added that the Post refused to provide copies of the videos to the team “to be forensically evaluated and authenticated.”
One of the men Baker said was involved in making the video, Tim DeLaney, disputed the claim.
“I was never asked to create an outtakes video, and I have no knowledge of anyone creating one or even being asked to create one,” said DeLaney, then Washington’s vice president of production and now vice president of broadcast and digital content for the Arizona Cardinals. “I certainly would have remembered that conversation had it happened.”
The newspaper also reported that a former cheerleader, Tiffany Bacon Scourby, said Snyder suggested at a 2004 charity event that she join “his close friend” in a hotel room so “they could get to know each other.” The team’s former cheerleader director was among three people who supported the account, the Post said.
Snyder said in his statement that Scourby never brought any allegations of the alleged 2004 incident to management’s attention in her eight years as a cheerleader “or at any time in the past 16 years.” Snyder said Scourby is still a volunteer for the team’s cheerleaders.
“I want to unequivocally state that this never happened,” Snyder said.
The Post’s 5,500-word story also detailed what several women said was a culture in which women were objectified. Several women told the Post of an informal online “support group” for former team employees. Brittany Pareti, who worked for the team from 2007 to 2012, said of the culture: “It was like fresh meat to a pack of wolves every time a new pack of interns would come in. It was like a frat house, with men lined up in the lobby watching women walk in and out. You constantly felt there were eyes on you.”
A 2017 email sent by Julie Kalmanides, the team’s only human resources employee at the time, said, “It has also been requested that, if at all possible, females are not present in any football areas while the players are here.” Kalmanides told the Post that senior executives wrote the email and that she distributed it.
Twenty-five women have spoken to the Post about experiencing sexual harassment while working for the team. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity because of nondisclosure agreements or fear of reprisal.
“We strongly condemn the unprofessional, disturbing and abhorrent behavior and workplace environment alleged in the report which is entirely inconsistent with our standards and has no place in the nfl,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Wednesday evening.
The latest revelations come amid Snyder’s stated commitment to improving the culture inside the team after allegations of sexual harassment and a toxic workplace culture spanning from 2006 to 2019.
In July, a letter, which was obtained by ESPN, was signed by Snyder and his wife, Tanya, and sent to each member of the organization. In it, the Snyders apologized on behalf of the team and asked for everybody’s help “to build a better organizational culture.”
Snyder on Wednesday said he takes “full responsibility” for the organizational culture and that the behavior described in the Post article “has no place in our franchise, or in our society.”
“Even before today’s article, I have begun taking any and all steps necessary to ensure that the Washington football Team is an organization that is diverse, inclusive and respectful of all,” Snyder said in the statement.
“I have admittedly been too hands-off as an owner and allowed others to have day-to-day control to the detriment of our organization. Going forward I am going to be more involved, and we have already made major changes in personnel bringing in new leadership to drive cultural transformation on and off the field. In addition, we are assembling a world class team of external advisors to both investigate these allegations and create an actionable and measurable plan to change our culture.”
The Washington football team also issued a statement later Wednesday, saying, “Our priority is creating a culture where our employees – on and off the field – are respected and empowered.
“Our first concern is for the safety and security of our teammates, and we have encouraged any employees who have endured similar experiences, now or in the past, to report it immediately. We are already taking a series of additional steps to hold ourselves accountable to our commitments. We remain focused on building an organization where all employees feel valued and are invested in shaping the new direction of our franchise.”
The nfl has said it would wait for a law firm’s review of the organization’s culture before taking action.
“An independent investigation into these issues is in process, led by highly experienced counsel recommended by our office,” Goodell said in his statement Wednesday. “We will continue to monitor the progress of this investigation and ensure that the club and its employees satisfy their obligation to give full cooperation to the investigators. If at any time the club or anyone associated with the club fails to do so, the investigating counsel has been asked to promptly advise our office and we will take appropriate action.”