One Washington Commanders player believes change is needed for the organization amid the turmoil surrounding owner Dan Snyder.
Cornerback Benjamin St-Juste was drafted by the Commanders in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Since arriving, he says he’s always noticed the bad spotlight surrounding the team.
“It’s been a dark cloud over our organization,” St-Juste told French-language paper Le Journal de Quebec – he is from Montreal – as translated by 106.7 The Fan. “Every time there is something good happening on the pitch, something bad is happening off it. It would give us great energy to have a fresh start and regain the confidence of the fans.”
Snyder’s “dark cloud” surrounds the investigation that was launched after The Washington Post reported former employees claimed to have been sexually harassed during their time with the team. A further report had more than 100 employees claiming Snyder had a toxic workplace environment where women felt discriminated against and marginalized.
The latest pile on to the many problems surrounding the franchise came from the District of Columbia Attorney General’s Office, which announced a civil lawsuit against the Commanders, Snyder, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday, alleging that the parties colluded to “deceive” the public on the investigation into the alleged toxic workplace culture.
Attorney General Karl A. Racine released a lengthy statement, accusing the NFL of “turn(ing) a blind eye to Snyder’s extensive efforts to silence or intimidate witnesses.”
“After public reporting revealed that sexual misconduct, harassment and misogyny ran rampant for decades at the team, the defendants promised DC residents that the league was going to fix this toxic culture, including by fully cooperating with an independent investigation,” Racine wrote.
“That was all a lie. Instead, the NFL turned a blind eye to Snyder’s extensive efforts to silence or intimidate witnesses, and the NFL and Commanders entered into a secret agreement that gave Snyder power to veto the release of any results.”
Expecting this announcement from the attorney general, the Commanders released a statement on Wednesday attempting to use the recent shooting of running back Brian Robinson Jr. to retort whatever was coming from Racine.
“Less than three months ago, a 23-year-old player on our team was shot multiple times, in broad daylight,” the statement began via ESPN. “Despite the out-of-control violent crime in DC, today the Washington Commanders learned for the first time on Twitter that the D.C. Attorney General will be holding a press conference to ‘make a major announcement’ related to the organization tomorrow.”
Robinson’s agent, Ryan Williams, was displeased by this.
“Up until an hour ago, the Commanders handled the Brian Robinson situation with so much care, sincerity and class,” Williams said via Twitter. “And I was so grateful for all of it. Although I know that there are some great human in that building, whoever is hiding behind this statement is not one of them.”
Because of these off-field situation, St-Juste and his teammates have had to see fans in the stands with paper bags that read, “Sell The Team,” on them.
That is just some of the pressure facing Snyder to sell the team, with Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay saying he believed “merit” was found to seriously consider voting Snyder out.
The U.S. House Oversight Committee launched an investigation into the team earlier this year over Washington’s workplace culture after an independent review, overseen by the league, prompted a $10 million fine, but did not include a written report to be released to the public.
Congress began investigating the team in October 2021, when allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct arose after then-Raiders head coach Jon Gruden stepped down following the leak of emails with then-Commanders team President Bruce Allen.
The lawmakers’ investigation found that Snyder played a significant role in fostering a toxic work environment and pointed to evidence that suggested Snyder impeded the NFL’s independent probe into those allegations. While Snyder refused to testify, Goodell did before the U.S. House Oversight Committee.
Snyder took the first steps to potentially selling his franchise, hiring Bank of America Securities to look into a potential sale. Since then, rumors that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and rap mogul Jay-Z may team up to purchase the team in a deal that’s expected to be more than the $4.65 billion the Denver Broncos sold for in June.
Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.