Over the past couple of years, as more and more women who once worked for the Washington Commanders have stepped forward to bare the scars they carry from their respective tenures working for the team, their voices have gotten stronger. Their resolve has been fortified. They have been bolstered by male colleagues who have spoken up to reinforce their stories, buoyed by strangers who have offered support.
It took courage for them to go on the record with the Washington Post and New York Times to detail the personal trauma they experienced, and for some to sit in front of members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and share stories of near-daily sexual harassment during their time of employment, the landmines they had to constantly work to avoid to stay out of harm's way, which some said included unwanted advances from team owner Daniel Snyder on down.
One of their lawyers is challenging Snyder and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to show a similar level of courage, as the pair has now been summoned to Capitol Hill later this month for a hearing on what happened in the team's offices.
"All we’ve been after is transparency and accountability," former Washington employee Megan Imbert told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday, after news of the Oversight Committee summoning Goodell and Snyder. "Even that $10 million fine [the NFL leveled against Washington last July], we still don’t know where it went, or did it go anywhere? We’re getting no clarity around any of it.”
If you think Goodell and Snyder will show — show up, show courage, show contrition, show any semblance of care and concern — you're almost certainly going to be disappointed.
The only thing Goodell has shown is an ardent desire to protect Snyder, which is strange considering Snyder has the charm of a soggy piece of toast and seemingly considers intimidation and litigation of "little people" to be self-care.
Goodell's more recent years as commissioner have shown that any morality previously ascribed to him as the son of a former U.S. Senator who lost his job because he changed his stance on the Vietnam War is completely gone, and that he has become little more than a highly compensated rubber stamp for franchise owners' basest behaviors and worst ideas.
Yes, he works at the pleasure of the owner class, but once upon a time he repeated that "protecting the Shield" was of the utmost importance and that team owners weren't immune from personal conduct policy penalties. Like much of what Goodell says publicly, it was all bluster.
As for Snyder, well, there's a book to be written on his time as Commanders owner and what he has shown himself to be during that 20-year span. The corporate office cesspool he oversaw that the league publicly reprimanded him for is just the tip of the iceberg.
Neither man is a profile in courage.
True courage is found in Imbert and Melanie Coburn, who will not be silenced. And Tiffani Johnston, who said on Capitol Hill in February that Snyder had twice touched her inappropriately at a work dinner. And Jason Friedman, a longtime team employee who alleges Washington kept two sets of books when it came to money it was supposed to share with other NFL teams and promptly saw Washington try to smear his character.
Every time something like Wednesday's release from the House Oversight Committee comes up, the Commanders cook up some new publicity stunt to distract their dwindling fan base. (Did you see that their current proposed new stadium is over 30 miles from D.C. and has just 55,000 seats?) The day before former team employees took part in the Capitol Hill roundtable in February, they announced their long-debated name change. Last October, they announced on a Thursday that Sean Taylor's jersey would be retired that coming Sunday, an event looked hastily put together, to put it kindly.
Since it would be stunning if Snyder and Goodell show their faces on June 22 before Congress — at the moment, their presence is a request from the committee, not subpoenaed — there won't be a need for a shiny object to keep everyone's attention off of the happenings, no need for a heaping bowl of popcorn to watch the proceedings.
"At the end of the day, they are complicit," Imbert said. "They should show up and they should be truthful.
“I think it’s going to be very telling if they don’t show up. I hope at that point Congress uses subpoena power or shares stuff that they know."
It will be telling. Two men telling us again that they care only about protecting themselves and their interests.