Dan Snyder needs to hit the reset button on his franchise. From the team’s controversial name to the recent sexual harassment scandal, it’s been a difficult offseason, to say the least. In desperate need of a culture transformation, the Washington Redskins made a groundbreaking hire on Tuesday that represents a massive step forward.
And by making history, perhaps this shows that Snyder finally realized that the Washington NFL franchise deserves a thorough cleansing in order to move forward.
It’s been a rough offseason in Washington
Redskins fans have endured a tumultuous offseason following yet another disappointing year of on-field play by Snyder’s team. It appeared as though the year 2020 would represent a new beginning for a franchise that has annually ranked as one of the worst in the NFL. Hiring Ron Rivera and landing Chase Young in the 2020 NFL draft rated as top-notch moves.
Since then, everything has gone downhill. It started with a renewed discussion about changing the Washington NFL franchise’s much-maligned name. While “Redskins” has existed for decades, it obviously carries an offensive connotation.
Despite the controversial name, Snyder has never wavered on his stance about keeping the Redskins around. However, all of that changed in the last month or so once investors, sponsors, and other stakeholders made it clear that they have no desire to associate with the historic NFL franchise if the offensive name will still be in place.
Finally, after years of holding firm, Snyder acquiesced. And while a few name-change options have come up, we still don’t have a full resolution. Unfortunately, the name-change issue got moved to the back-burner in light of a much more troubling situation.
Dan Snyder’s franchise got rocked by sexual harassment scandal
As if fans of the Washington NFL franchise needed any more reason to detest their owner, a bombshell story by The Washington Post revealed disturbing details about a toxic culture that exists within Snyder’s franchise. The report revealed allegations that female employees have faced sexual harassment for years, including from high-level executives.
Snyder himself did not get linked specifically to any of the allegations. However, as the owner of the team, it certainly falls under his umbrella of responsibilities to ensure his employees feel safe and respected in the workplace. Clearly that has not been the case in Washington.
Even before the story dropped, it became clear that issues existed. Larry Michael, the team’s lead play-by-play announcer for 16 seasons, abruptly retired on July 15, just one day before the story went public. Strangely, the team did not release a statement, though Michael did.
“After 16 great years my time with the organization is over. As of today I’ll be retiring from my position with the team. As a lifelong Washingtonian I was blessed to work with a lot of great people. I want to thank everyone who contributed over the years. I’m especially grateful to [team owner] Dan Snyder for giving me the opportunity. On to the next chapter.”
Michael’s name came up multiple times in the sexual harassment story, which only makes his out-of-the-blue resignation look even more suspicious.
As the Redskins try to navigate through this difficult period, Tuesday represented a massive step in the right direction.
Redskins make historical hire they desperately needed
With Michael gone, the Redskins obviously needed a new leader on their radio broadcast team. At the same time, considering the allegations made by so many female employees, Snyder desperately needed to change the narrative and do something meaningful to at least show that the franchise will try to transform its toxic culture.
On Tuesday, Snyder accomplished both by hiring NBC Sports Washington anchor and reporter Julie Donaldson. She will lead the radio broadcast team, serve in other on-air roles, and also hold the title of senior vice president of media. According to Westwood One, Donaldson will be the first woman to be a regular member of an NFL team’s radio broadcast booth.
The groundbreaking hire represents a small step in the right direction. Donaldson may not have anything to do with the football side of operations, but her wealth of experience gives the team a powerful female voice. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how prominent of a role she will play.
Can she use this platform to help change the culture of a franchise in desperate need of a transformation? How else will Snyder support his female employees in light of the sexual harassment scandal? What other changes will he make to ensure this situation never happens again?
Those are the questions that need to be answered. But for now, the Washington Redskins have at least made a positive step by making the groundbreaking hire they desperately needed.