Allegany Communications Sports
The Washington Commanders, that zany, madcap organization of #NFLTheTVShow misadventure, denied several not so zany or madcap allegations of financial impropriety in a letter sent Monday to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
According to the Associated Press, the 105-page letter including testimony, emails and other documents came as a response to the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee asking the FTC to look into the team’s business practices.
The committee last week told the FTC it found evidence of deceptive business practices over the span of more than a decade, including withholding ticket revenue from visiting teams and refundable deposits from fans. The NFL said it engaged Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White “to review the most serious matters raised by the committee.”
The letter sent to the FTC by the Commanders denies all allegations, which they say are the result of the motives and character of former VP of sales and customer service Jason Friedman, whose testimony against the team framed the committee’s recommendation
Congress began looking into the team’s workplace misconduct after the NFL did not release a report detailing the findings of an independent investigation into the matter, which led to a $10 million fine but no other discipline, other than the resignation of former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden for homophobic and misogynistic emails he had sent to Washington’s former general manager and president Bruce Allen years prior, following an earlier report of racist statements about a union leader.
The emails were sent during Gruden’s time as the hip “Are you kidding me?/”I’m telling you, man” Monday Night Football analyst. So, of course, it makes perfect sense that an #NFLTheTVShow in-house investigation of fellow NFL owner Dan Snyder, of Washington, would result in the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders resigning for hateful emails he sent years prior while he was the lead analyst for Monday Night Football.
Look, not making light of or condoning Gruden’s perceived hate, nor am I saying he should not be gone. But that he was the only person who actually took the sword as a result of an in-house NFL investigation that did not even involve him, but centered on the Washington NFL owner, brings to mind the words of former UNLV head coach Jerry Tarkanian, a longtime enemy of the NCAA, after Kentucky basketball and coach Eddie Sutton once again found themselves the neck-deep subject of an NCAA investigation.
“The NCAA,” Tarkanian famously said, “was so mad at Kentucky they gave Cleveland State two more years of probation.”
The NCAA is notorious for selective enforcement (see ignored fake North Carolina class), and NFL owners are notorious for protecting members of their exclusive club; and, oh yes, for punishing the Raiders and the legacy of Al Davis at any opportunity.
In a statement concerning the latest allegations, sent to The Associated Press on April 4, a Commanders spokeswoman said there was “absolutely no withholding of ticket revenue at any time” and pointed to audits by multiple parties, adding that “anyone who offered testimony suggesting a withholding of revenue has committed perjury, plain and simple.”
Lawyer Lisa Banks, who represents Friedman, said the team defamed her client, who she said “testified truthfully, with evidence.”
Friedman testified before Congress saying the team had two separate financial books: one with underreported ticket revenue that went to the NFL and the full, complete picture. According to testimony, owner Dan Snyder was aware of the numbers shared with the league while also being privy to the actual data.
Now, this is not to imply that Dan Snyder is guilty of any wrong or despicable doings; this is merely to say that it’s always something. But if there is fire to this latest smoke, could it finally be curtains for the diminutive Commanders owner?
The NFL is apparently willing to overlook alleged deplorable workplace conditions, including sexual harassment and misconduct, for which there are many willing witnesses, but if it is found a fellow owner has been shortchanging them on their own league-mandated paydays, will they also be willing to overlook that? Taking money out of their own pockets?
I can think of only about a million Washington Commanders fans who hope not, because almost from the moment Dan Snyder bought the team, seemingly every aspect of the on-field and in-community operations of the franchise has gone terribly wrong. And what had been going right, or would soon go right, would even sooner begin to go wrong to make everything with this woeful organization a perfect fit.
Yet beyond that; far beyond being an inept professional sports team owner: Nobody, no matter his or her station in life, can ever be completely surprised (“I’m shocked, shocked!”) on the day they learn they are being investigated by the United States Government.
Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT