Tackling Toxic Workplaces: Examining the NFLs Handling of Workplace Misconduct at the Washington Commanders

Roger Goodell keeps defending the indefensible refusal to use redaction of names in the Washington report

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In evaluating the NFL’s false claim that, to protect current or former Washington Commanders employees who requested anonymity in cooperating with the Beth Wilkinson investigation, all facts and findings must be kept completely and totally secret, we have noted other situations in which it has been sufficient simply to redact the names of people who feared reprisals or unwanted scrutiny.

Turns out we didn’t have to look as far as we did to find examples. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) noted during his questioning of Commissioner Roger Goodell Wednesday that the wording was good enough for the league, in the report generated by the Miami bullying scandal involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. .

“In the case of the Dolphins, I remember no one asked for confidentiality,” Goodell said.

“They did it because their names were redacted,” Raskin noted.

“In Washington, they not only asked for confidentiality, in many cases, we also promised them confidentiality,” Goodell said.

“That’s what the newsroom is for,” Raskin replied.

Goodell, finally stuck in a corner, gave this last justification: “Congressman, I promise you, wording doesn’t always work in my world.”

But it worked with the Dolphins. And Goodell’s recollection is incorrect as to whether anyone requested confidentiality. Here is the key passage from the Miami report:

“Due to the extraordinary public interest in this matter, the Commissioner has made the decision that the full Report submitted to him, without redactions or modifications, will be made public. Consequently, we try to protect the privacy of certain people we interview or write about, recognizing that many of them never asked to be brought to the fore. In some cases, witnesses specifically asked that their identities be kept confidential, some even seemed to fear possible retaliation for cooperating with our investigation, and we complied with their requests. The NFLPA was sensitive to the privacy concerns expressed by some witnesses and helped obtain necessary cooperation. We hope that by demonstrating sensitivity to privacy issues and confidentiality requests, we will encourage witnesses to cooperate with any future NFL investigations (unrelated to this matter) that may result in public reporting.”

This is how to achieve the balance between secrecy and transparency. That’s how the NFL has done it in the past. That is the precedent that was actually forgotten (at best) or deliberately ignored (at worst) by 345 Park Avenue. (We bet the latter).

The most plausible explanation is that the NFL thinks we’re stupid enough to buy into the idea that confidentiality can’t be guaranteed without absolute secrecy. Or that the NFL is stubborn enough (and Goodell is skilled enough) to recite fake talking points with a straight face until the awkward conversation inevitably ends.

However, it is possible, giving the NFL the benefit of the doubt, that feared Commanders owner Daniel Snyder would reverse engineer the Wilkinson report to find out the names of everyone whose name was redacted in the final report. . . But if that’s the case, if the NFL reasonably believes that Snyder is so vindictive that he would spend time and money finding out who the anonymous employees were to retaliate against them, why haven’t they taken steps to get rid of them? of the?

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