Friday's NFL: Washington owner vows culture change
Washington NFL owner Dan Snyder said Friday he’s committed to improving the culture inside the team after allegations of sexual harassment, while the league will wait for a law firm’s review before taking action.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that 15 female former employees said they were sexually harassed during their time with the team. Snyder said the behavior described in the story “has no place in our franchise or society.”
He hired District of Columbia law firm Wilkinson and Walsh to conduct an independent review of team policies, culture and allegations of workplace misconduct. The league said in a statement it will meet with lawyers after the investigation is complete and will act based on the findings.
Snyder also pledged to make organizational changes.
“Beth Wilkinson and her firm are empowered to do a full, unbiased investigation and make any and all requisite recommendations,” Snyder said. “Upon completion of her work, we will institute new policies and procedures and strengthen our human resources infrastructure to not only avoid these issues in the future but most importantly create a team culture that is respectful and inclusive of all.”
He said the commitment to establishing a new culture and higher standard began with the hiring of Ron Rivera as coach this year. Rivera told The Athletic he was brought in to change the culture and “create an environment of inclusion.”
The NFL said it expects the team and all employees to be cooperative but is not yet making its own review of the team.
“These matters as reported are serious, disturbing and contrary to the NFL’s values,” the league said. “Everyone in the NFL has the right to work in an environment free from any and all forms of harassment.”
Director of player personnel Alex Santos, assistant Richard Mann II and longtime broadcaster and senior vice president Larry Michael are no longer with the team. Michael announced Wednesday he was retiring after 16 years.
Santos, Mann, Michael and former business executives Dennis Greene and Mitch Gershman were mentioned in the Post story.
The team on Friday named Eric Stokes its director of player personnel and hired Don Warren as senior pro scout. Stokes and Warren follow Rivera from Carolina.
“Eric Stokes is one of the finest scouts I have been around during my time as a coach in this league,” Rivera said. “He is a man that knows what I expect and knows the culture that I want to instill here in Washington. His experience as an assistant general manager and his familiarity with my expectations make him an invaluable addition to our organization.”
Bengals sign Green
Receiver A.J. Green signed his one-year, $17.9 million contract after the deadline passed for agreeing to a long-term deal with the Bengals.
The club used its franchise tag on Green, who missed all last season with an ankle injury. Green wanted a multiyear deal to stay in Cincinnati but said he wouldn’t hold out if the club used the tag to keep him around for another year.
The Bengals could try to negotiate a multiyear deal at the end of the 2020 season. Green has said he’d like to finish his career in Cincinnati, where he holds many of the franchise’s receiving records.
After nine years of Green teaming with quarterback Andy Dalton, the Bengals made a clean break following a 2-14 finish. Quarterback Joe Burrow went to Cincinnati with the first overall pick in the draft. The Bengals then took Clemson receiver Tee Higgins — who patterns his game on Green’s — in the second round.
Green’s presence gives Burrow a deep receiving group that includes Tyler Boyd, who caught 90 passes for 1,046 yards and five touchdowns last season with Green sidelined. The Bengals return running back Joe Mixon, who ran for 1,137 yards and caught 35 passes for 287 yards.
Green tore up his left ankle during the first practice of training camp in Dayton. The club kept him on the active roster, hoping he’d be able to return at midseason, but he had setbacks when close to coming back. Green said at the end of the season the ankle was fully healed.
Beachum signs with Cards
The Cardinals signed offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum to a one-year deal.
Beachum, 31, is an eight-year veteran who played the last three seasons with the Jets. He started all 45 games he played at left tackle. The 6-foot-3, 308-pounder began his career with Pittsburgh, playing four seasons for the Steelers at left and right tackle. He also played one year in Jacksonville.
Beachum provides depth for the Cardinals’ offensive line. They recently signed starting left tackle D.J. Humphries to a long-term deal but the right tackle spot could be open. Last year’s starter Justin Murray returns, but he’ll potentially have competition from veteran Marcus Gilbert, rookie Josh Jones and Beachum.