Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was welcomed with cheers during Saturday's training camp, the first day of practice that was open to fans.

Reports: Decision in Watson disciplinary case expected Monday

A decision on Deshaun Watson’s NFL disciplinary case is expected Monday, multiple reports said Sunday.

The Cleveland Browns quarterback has been accused of sexual assault and inappropriate misconduct during massage sessions between March 2020 and March 2021.

While 20 of the 24 sustained lawsuits he has faced have been settled and two grand juries in Texas decided not to pursue criminal charges against Watson, the NFL has been conducting an investigation of their own to determine whether he violated its personal conduct policy.

Retired judge Sue Robinson has been appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association and tasked with deciding on the case. Unless she recommends there be no disciplinary action, Watson and the NFLPA can appeal the decision to commissioner Roger Goodell.

According to CBS Sports, the NFL is reportedly pushing for an indefinite suspension that would last through the 2022 season.

In a joint statement, Watson and the NFLPA emphasized their full cooperation and support of Robinson and her investigation, stating “(we) will stand by her ruling and we call on the NFL to do the same.”

The Browns, who traded three first-round picks for Watson in March, have been adding to their roster in anticipation of the ruling, recently signing former first-round pick Josh Rosen and working out A.J. McCarron earlier in the month.

–Field Level Media

Aug 29, 2019; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder on the field before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Daniel Snyder offers to testify remotely before House committee

Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder offered July 28 and 29 as dates that he would be able to testify before the House Oversight Committee via video conference, ESPN reported Thursday.

Snyder’s attorney, Karen Patton Seymour, told committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) in a letter that she offered the two dates in late July after the committee originally proposed July 6 or 8. Seymour claimed that she had not heard from Maloney since June 30.

The committee is investigating allegations about the Commanders’ workplace culture. Media reports have detailed allegations of sexual misconduct from 15 female ex-employees, including multiple accusations of sexual harassment against Snyder in particular. While those women have spoken out publicly, at least 50 ex-employees reportedly have complained about the workplace culture.

A spokesperson for the committee said in a statement late last month that Snyder had “so far refused to accept service of the Committee’s subpoena” and it would not “tolerate attempts to evade service of a duly authorized subpoena or seek special treatment” on the matter.

Snyder’s camp pushed back, saying he was not refusing to appear for a deposition.

The Washington owner has said he has been out of the country on business on the dates the House committee has proposed. Seymour also said in Thursday’s letter that Snyder planned to spend “much of July” and “into August” in Israel while observing the one-year anniversary of the death of his mother.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell testified before the committee remotely in June.

Snyder is at the center of multiple controversies. In addition to the House committee inquiry, the Virginia attorney general said in April that he was launching an investigation into allegations regarding the team’s business practices.

Oversight and Reform obtained evidence that Snyder had team executives illegally withhold refundable security deposits from ticket holders and kept two sets of books to hide revenue from the NFL in order to contribute less to the revenue-sharing pool.

In May 1999, NFL owners unanimously approved the sale of the Washington franchise and the old Jack Kent Cooke Stadium to a group headed by Snyder, who then was 34. The group paid $800 million, which at the time was a record purchase price for a U.S. sports franchise.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2020; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Ron Rivera looks on as owner Daniel Snyder speaks during his introductory press conference at Inova Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

House Oversight Committee: Daniel Snyder trying to ‘evade’ subpoena

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform so far has been unable to serve Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder with a subpoena to testify on Capitol Hill, a spokesperson said Monday.

The committee is investigating allegations about the Commanders’ workplace culture. Media reports have detailed allegations of sexual misconduct from 15 female ex-employees, including multiple accusations of sexual harassment against Snyder in particular. While those women have spoken out publicly, at least 50 ex-employees reportedly have complained about the workplace culture.

“Mr. Snyder has so far refused to accept service of the Committee’s subpoena,” the spokesperson’s statement said. “While the committee has been, and remains, willing to consider reasonable accommodations requested by witnesses, we will not tolerate attempts to evade service of a duly authorized subpoena or seek special treatment not afforded to other witnesses who testified in this matter. The Committee will not be deterred from obtaining Mr. Snyder’s testimony, and we remain committed to ensuring transparency about the toxic workplace culture at the Washington Commanders and the NFL’s inadequate response.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell testified before the committee on the matter last week. Snyder declined an invitation to testify, citing business that required overseas travel. Committee chair Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) responded by saying she would subpoena Snyder to appear.

The Athletic reported that Snyder’s attorney declined to accept a subpoena on Snyder’s behalf Friday.

After a 2020 Washington Post report initially revealed many of the allegations, the NFL launched its own investigation led by attorney Beth Wilkinson. The league fined the Commanders $10 million in 2021 and had Snyder step away from day-to-day operations, but Wilkinson’s findings were not released publicly, prompting the House committee to request that commissioner Roger Goodell release everything related to the investigation.

Last week, the committee released a 29-page memo based on its own eight-month investigation, which found that Snyder conducted his own “shadow investigation” into workplace allegations in an attempt to discredit the accusers.

Snyder is at the center of multiple investigations. In addition to the House committee inquiry, the Virginia attorney general said in April that he was launching an investigation into allegations regarding the team’s business practices.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform obtained evidence that Snyder had team executives illegally withhold refundable security deposits from ticket holders and kept two sets of books to hide revenue from the NFL in order to contribute less to the revenue-sharing pool.

Goodell told the committee last week that he has no authority to remove Snyder as owner of the Commanders. An owner can only be removed by a three-quarters majority vote (24 of 32) of fellow owners, although Goodell does have the authority to recommend a vote.

In May 1999, NFL owners unanimously approved the sale of the Washington franchise and the old Jack Kent Cooke Stadium to a group headed by Snyder, who then was 34. The group paid $800 million, which at the time was a record purchase price for a U.S. sports franchise.

–Field Level Media

Dec 9, 2018; Carson, CA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals special assistant to the head coach Hue Jackson watches from the sidelines in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL: No evidence to support Hue Jackson’s claims of Browns tanking

An independent review into former Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson’s allegations that the team incentivized him to intentionally lose games found “no evidence” to back the claims, the NFL announced Monday.

Former U.S. Attorney and Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White led a team of lawyers on an investigation that lasted 60 days, in response to Jackson writing on social media in February that the Browns paid him bonuses to tank in 2016 and 2017.

“The investigation found no evidence to suggest that the Browns’ Four-Year Plan or the club’s ownership or football personnel sought to lose or incentivized losses and made no decisions deliberately to weaken the team to secure a more favorable draft position,” the NFL said in a press release.

The league added that Jackson, now the coach of Grambling State, initially agreed to meet with White’s team but failed to follow through.

According to the league, the Browns produced “thousands of pages” worth of emails, memos and other documents from the time period in question, which did not turn up any potential evidence of tanking.

Jackson compiled a 3-36-1 record in two-plus seasons as Cleveland’s head coach, including a 1-15 mark in 2016 (his first year on the job) and 0-16 the following year. Those dreadful records helped the Browns earn the first overall picks in consecutive drafts, which they used to select edge rusher Myles Garrett and quarterback Baker Mayfield.

In February, in the wake of Brian Flores’ racial discrimination lawsuit against the NFL and several teams, Jackson implied in multiple social media posts that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam paid him bonuses to lose, at one point writing, “Trust me, it was a good number!”

He backpedaled on those specific accusations later in the week in interviews with ESPN and CNN, instead saying that his situation had “similarities” to Flores’ with the Miami Dolphins. Haslam, meanwhile, denied the allegations.

“We appreciate the independent investigation led by Mary Jo White and the Debevoise (law firm) team which brings closure to these allegations that Hue Jackson publicly recanted shortly after they were made and that we’ve known all along are categorically false,” the Browns said in a statement Monday. “As we’ve previously stated, we welcomed this investigation because the integrity of our game is something that should not be taken lightly and an independent review was crucial in bringing a conclusion to this matter.”

White was also appointed by the NFL to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder, which was later expanded to include finance-related allegations against the team. That probe is ongoing.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2020; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder speaks during the introductory press conference for head coach Ron Rivera at Inova Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia AG to investigate Commanders’ alleged financial misconduct

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares told the Washington Commanders in a letter Monday that his office will launch an investigation into allegations regarding the team’s business practices.

“To be clear, I have not prejudged the issues raised regarding the Commanders,” Miyares wrote. “However, I view it as my responsibility to carefully examine the material facts regarding this matter after it was brought to my attention. I request full cooperation and transparency from your client during this inquiry.”

The House Oversight & Reform Committee told the Federal Trade Commission in a letter this month that it had obtained evidence that Commanders owner Daniel Snyder “may have engaged in a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct” that took advantage of the team’s fans.

Two main allegations are at the core of the dispute: that Washington illegally withheld refundable security deposits from ticket holders, and that executives kept two sets of books to hide revenue from the NFL in order to share less in the league’s revenue-sharing pool.

The Commanders formally responded last week by issuing a letter to the FTC that rebutted individual points made in the testimony of former ticket executive Jason Friedman, while painting Friedman as a disgruntled ex-employee who had been angling to return to the team.

The Commanders’ team headquarters are in Ashburn, a suburb in Northern Virginia. They hold their training camp in Richmond, Va., and are considering building a stadium in the state.

Three sites in Northern Virginia had been proposed, but the state legislature reportedly planned to cut a proposed financing package from $1 billion to $350 million.

–Field Level Media

Feb 2, 2022; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Commanders co-owner Dan Snyder speaks as co-owner Tanya Snyder (L) listens during a press conference revealing the Commanders as the new name for the formerly named Washington Football Team at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Former U.S. Attorney to investigate Dan Snyder, release findings

The NFL hired former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to conduct its investigation into the latest allegations made against Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder.

Crucially, the NFL said it will release a written report to the public. When the franchise hired lawyer Beth Wilkinson in 2020 to investigate initial allegations of a culture of sexual harassment in its workplace, her complete findings were never released.

White previously worked with the NFL to investigate sexual and racial harassment allegations against Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who eventually sold the team in 2018.

In a House Oversight Committee roundtable earlier this month, six former team employees testified about Washington’s misogynistic workplace culture. Among the most explosive new allegations came from Tiffani Johnston, a former marketing coordinator and cheerleader who said Snyder placed his hand on her thigh during a work dinner in 2006 and later tried to push her into a limousine outside the restaurant.

Johnston also claimed that Snyder demanded a photo of her in lingerie taken for a promotional calendar be sent to him before it was edited or altered for the calendar.

Snyder has denied the new allegations, while saying previous claims had already been investigated.

In a release Friday, though, the teams says it welcomes the investigation.

“The Washington Commanders are pleased that the NFL has appointed Mary Jo White to look into the recent allegations made by Tiffani Johnson. The Commanders have always been intent on having a full and fair investigation of this matter conducted, and to releasing the results of that investigation. Given the Team’s confidence in Ms. White’s ability to conduct such a full and fair investigation, the Commanders will not separately pursue an investigation, and will cooperage fully with Ms. White.”

Some of the witnesses who spoke out earlier this month placed blame on the NFL for not punishing Snyder and the Commanders more following the Wilkinson investigation. In 2021, the team was fined $10 million, and Snyder was forced to cede — temporarily — day-to-day operational control of the team.

“The NFL is now complicit in this scandal,” Washington’s director of marketing Melanie Coburn told Congress. “Ten months, more than 120 witnesses and nothing. Roger Goodell’s claim that he was trying to protect us is outrageous and cowardly. The public optics of him caring is appalling. Goodell betrayed every woman who suffered harassment and abuse at the Washington Football Team.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2020; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder speaks during the introductory press conference for head coach Ron Rivera at Inova Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders launch investigation into sexual harassment allegations

The Washington Commanders have hired a high-powered legal team to investigate allegations of sexual harassment made last week by a former team employee against owner Daniel Snyder.

In a news release Wednesday, the Commanders said a group led by Debra Wong Yang, a prominent attorney who is a former California state judge, U.S. attorney and Los Angeles police commissioner, will lead the investigation.

The group is tasked with looking into sexual harassment allegations made last week before Congress by Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing manager for the team. She said that at a team dinner, Snyder reached under the table and put his hand on her thigh and later put his hand on her lower back to try to push her toward his limousine.

“The Team is committed to a thorough and independent investigation of Ms. Johnston’s allegation, and pledges full cooperation with the investigation,” the Commanders said in a news release.

Other members of the investigative team include former U.S. attorneys Bonnie Jonas and Tiffany Moller of the Pallas Global Group LLC.

Johnston was one of six former team employees who shared experiences during a roundtable discussion with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which is looking into reports that Snyder ran a workplace with a “toxic” culture.

Snyder has denied the allegations against him but issued a statement last week acknowledging past “misconduct” within the organization.

“While past conduct at the Team was unacceptable, the allegations leveled against me personally in today’s roundtable — many of which are well over 13 years old — are outright lies,” Snyder said in a statement following the Feb. 3 testimony. “I unequivocally deny having participated in any such conduct, at any time and with respect to any person.”

The team said findings of the investigation will be released to the public but gave no timeline.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2020; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and his wife Tanya look on as head coach Ron Rivera speaks during his introductory press conference at Inova Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Congress renews interest in WFT workplace investigation

The House Oversight Committee will hold a roundtable discussion on Feb. 3 to learn more about the NFL’s investigation into the Washington Football Team.

The roundtable, which isn’t a full congressional hearing, will involve some of the women who have accused the team of fostering a toxic workplace culture.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that not only did the team fail to protect employees, but the NFL went to great lengths to prevent the truth about this toxic work environment from coming to light,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

“The NFL’s decision to cover up these abuses raises serious questions about its commitment to setting workplace standards that keep employees safe. I commend these victims for their bravery in coming forward to share their stories.”

The Capitol Hill meeting will be held the day after the Washington franchise is scheduled to reveal its new name and logo.

Five former employees are expected to testify, but no team or NFL officials are on the schedule. The former employees have criticized how the NFL investigated and dealt with their complaints about the workplace environment.

At the end of its investigation last summer, the league didn’t issue a report or make public its findings. The NFL fined the team $10 million and required that owner Daniel Snyder hand over the day-to-day operations of the club to his wife, Tanya, for the time being.

Leaked emails that were discovered during the investigation led to the resignation of Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden after they became public in October. The emails were offensive in nature.

“In pursuing this investigation, Congress will send a clear message to all employers that the rights of women to work in an environment free from harassment and abuse will not be undermined in service to the rich and powerful,” said attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who represent 40 former team employees, in a statement.

–Field Level Media

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during a memorial service for NFL legend Bart Starr at the Wright Center in Birmingham, Ala., on Sunday, June 9, 2019. 

Jc Starrmemorial 01

Roger Goodell: NFL won’t release WFT report

The NFL will not release the details of the investigation into workplace misconduct involving the Washington Football Team, commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday.

Speaking after a meeting of the league’s owners in New York, Goodell cited the request for anonymity made by some of those who were interviewed by investigators.

Goodell said, “We’re very conscious of making sure we’re protecting those who came forward. They were incredibly brave, incredibly open, and we respect the pain that they probably went through all over again to come forward. That was a very high priority.”

However, one of the whistleblowers, ex-Washington Football Team employee Rachel Engleson, disputed Goodell’s assertion regarding the report and asked for it to be made public.

She tweeted, “This is false @nflcommish. We were told our identities would be kept confidential in a written report. Meaning, if I spoke about something that happened to me, there would be no way Dan (Snyder) or others could trace the info back to me. Not that there would be no written report. C’mon.”

Attorney Lisa Banks also tweeted, “I represent 40 former employees of the WFT who participated in the investigation. Goodell’s statement is false.”

Snyder, who owns the Washington Football Team, was replaced as head of the team’s day-to-day operations as a result of the report, with his wife, Tanya, taking over. The team also received a $10 million fine based on the investigation’s findings.

Goodell said Tuesday of Daniel Snyder, “I do think he’s been held accountable. More importantly, steps were put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Two members of Congress last week asked for the report to be made public. The five-page letter stated, in part, “We have serious concerns about what appears to be widespread abusive workplace conduct at the WFT and about the NFL’s handling of this matter. …

“The NFL’s lack of transparency about the problems it recently uncovered raise questions about the seriousness with which it has addressed bigotry, racism, sexism, and homophobia — setting troubling precedent for other workplaces.”

–Field Level Media

Jul 22, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers head coach Scott Frost speaks to the media during Big 10 media days at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Scott Frost under investigation for improper use of analysts

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost is under investigation by the NCAA for improper use of analysts and consultants, The Action Network reported Wednesday.

Frost and new athletics director Trev Alberts acknowledged an investigation Wednesday without going into specifics.

The allegations are that Frost used Jonathan Rutledge, senior special teams analyst, to conduct special teams drills during practices, despite Rutledge not being one of Nebraska’s 10 full-time on-field assistant coaches, per the report. Analysts and consultants may only communicate with Frost and the coaching staff, not players, per NCAA rules.

Nebraska has significant video evidence of Rutledge interacting with players during practice in front of Frost and other assistants, per the report.

“The University of Nebraska Athletic Department has been working collaboratively with the NCAA to review a matter concerning our football program,” Alberts said. “We appreciate the dialogue we have had with the NCAA and cannot comment further on specifics of this matter.”

Rutledge and Frost’s chief of staff Gerrod Lambrecht both left the program in the past eight months. Rutledge was fired Jan. 14, 2021, ostensibly for poor special teams play. Frost announced Lambrecht’s departure earlier this month, saying he was pursuing another opportunity.

The NCAA is also investigating Nebraska for holding unauthorized off-campus organized workouts under the supervision of the Cornhuskers’ strength and conditioning staff last year during the coronavirus pandemic, per the report. Lambrecht is linked to those activities, per the report.

The NCAA has interviewed Frost, assistant coaches, staff and players, and Frost has obtained legal counsel, per the report.

Frost, 46, could be suspended a certain number of games, among other punishment, pending the results of the NCAA’s probe.

A former star quarterback at Nebraska (1996-97), Frost is 12-20 at his alma mater entering his fourth season.

Alberts took over as athletic director last month and said he first learned of the probe after he started.

–Field Level Media