Commander’s “new culture” keeps colliding with old culture

Just before coach Ron Rivera attempted to defend the Washington Commander’s new and improved culture on Wednesday, unfortunately, given the controversy surrounding the organization, a team employee posted an unfortunate, somewhat unfortunate, social media post. Embarrassing post.

Jackie Gorman, senior director of global events in Washington, posted a photo of herself sitting on a yacht with three other team executives in France. The social media post came on the same day that lawmakers on Capitol Hill questioned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over the league’s handling of the team’s sexual harassment scandal. On the same day, lawmakers vowed to subpoena owner Dan Snyder to skip a hearing to attend the awards ceremony in Cannes.

The optics of the photo are already poor. Gorman’s hashtag made it worse — “#workwithprettypeople,” she wrote.

On Wednesday, Rivera took to his own social media accounts to urge fans to take note of the improvements the team has made to the workplace across the organization. Instead, the coach’s post included some replies related to pictures of France. One fan wrote: “Are you sure about that coach?”

The episode highlighted the difficulties Rivera and company faced while working for Snyder. No matter how much the organization does to “change the culture,” there always seems to be something at odds with the progressive claims.

“These investigations into inappropriate workplace issues predate my work,” Rivera wrote. “I can’t change the past, but I want our fans, the NFL and Congress to see that we are doing everything we can to avoid repeating these workplace issues. And know that our employees are respected, valued and heard.”

Rivera’s statement is part of a series of efforts by the team to change the narrative emerging from Wednesday’s congressional hearing.

The team also emailed employees a letter titled “Two-Year Progress Reminder.” The letter, signed by Dan and Tanya Snyder and team president Jason Wright, details the team’s overhaul of executives, noting that half of the team’s 16 vice presidents are women, and the team’s five senior leadership positions are held by blacks. executives, and 90% of senior positions have undergone personnel changes.

The Snyders wrote that the Commanders are one of the most diverse teams in the NFL. To be fair, it’s true. Wright, one of the few black team presidents in the league, has overhauled the business side of the team since being hired in 2020. The team also made history by hiring Julie Donaldson as the league’s first female radio broadcaster and as assistant running backs coach Jennifer King was the first black woman to coach full-time in the NFL.

“We do not believe that rhetoric made in the media critical of our organization does not accurately reflect our positive transformation and the current reality of the Washington Command’s organization,” the letter reads. “No committee knows the Washington Command better than our own team members. official.”

But that perception persists despite Washington’s attempts to distance itself from the past and despite Rivera’s insistence that the sexual misconduct scandal preceded his arrival.

If things were really different, and if team employees were really taken seriously, skeptics would ask, why would Snyder send a private investigator to the home of a former cheerleader who participated in the league’s investigation into the team’s workplace? The congressional committee investigating the commander detailed the behavior in a 29-page memo until the spring of 2021 — more than a year after the personnel overhaul continued.

Under Rivera, the team’s penchant for controversy hasn’t gone away. Just this month, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio sparked a storm by calling the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riots “the dust settled.” That led Rivera to fine Del Rio $100,000, a penalty also proposed by Ohio Republican Jim Jordan at Wednesday’s hearing.

Last season, the DEA raided the team’s Ashburn facility as part of an investigation into team coach Ryan Vermilion. Vermillion — one of Rivera’s first employees — was not charged with a crime, but he was placed on administrative leave and ultimately did not return.

Of course, allegations of sexual harassment and financial misconduct within the organization are under investigation.

It’s a reality that often undercuts Rivera and his team’s efforts to emphasize what they see as a new and improved culture.

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