The Washington Commanders Have a Problem That a Woke Name Change Won't Fix

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Remember the Washington Redskins? In 2020, the NFL team’s owner, Dan Snyder, was determined to rid his organization of the “racist” team name. They temporarily rebranded themselves the Washington Football Team while they searched for a new identity (and why they didn’t adopt the black-on-white of those generic branded food items from the ’80s is totally beyond me).


After an exhaustive process of deciding from a list of uninspiring boilerplate names, they became the Washington Commanders.

It turns out that a shiny new woke team name is the least of the worries of the Washington Commanders organization.

Over the past week, a Congressional investigation into the team has gone into overdrive. There are two issues that have gotten the attention of Capitol Hill: an alleged “hostile work environment” within the office and team and reportedly a “troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct.

The inquiry into the Redskins Football Team Commanders has been going on since October, and the NFL sent over 80,000 pages of documents in the first four months of the investigation, with even more evidence coming down the pipeline in more recent weeks.

“The House Oversight Committee’s investigation has been focused on numerous claims of harassment leveled by current and former Commanders employees,” reports A. J. Perez at Front Office Sports. “From the start, the Democratic leaders of the Committee have urged the NFL to ‘be fully transparent.’”

The investigation stemmed from harassment allegations from multiple employees. On Feb. 3, the House Oversight Committee held a roundtable that allowed employees to address their grievances.


Former employees described a work environment where management treated women as sex objects and used them as pawns in sales efforts. Some even described cheerleaders performing privately for Snyder.

WJLA reported that Melanie Coburn, former cheerleading marketing director, told representatives, “The Washington Football Team has engaged in harassment and misogyny for decades. I’m still haunted by this. At the time there was no HR department or other reporting mechanism to report this behavior.”

But the financial allegations against Snyder and his organization really kicked the investigation up a notch.

Related: Former Washington Redskins to Pick Their New, Politically Correct Name From Seven Candidates on Feb. 2

The House Oversight Committee sent a 20-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission outlining the financial issues plaguing the Commanders.

“This new information on potential financial misconduct suggests that the rot under Dan Snyder’s leadership is much deeper than imagined,” stated Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the committee, in a statement. “It further reinforces the concern that this organization has been allowed to operate with impunity for far too long.”

Most of the allegations of financial hijinx come from one employee, as Perez reports, including the following:


• The Commanders “created artificial barriers to discourage customers from requesting” refundable deposits due to them. Friedman provided documents that showed as of July 2016 the Commanders still held about $5 million in unreturned deposits from around 2,000 accounts.
• Those unclaimed deposits were some of the alleged improprieties referred to internally “the juice,” the term given for revenue that wasn’t reported to the NFL and, in turn, not shared in violation of NFL bylaws.
• The team “repeatedly concealed ticket sales revenue that should have been shared with the NFL” allegations backed up by documents and information provided by Friedman.
• Team executives “intentionally” underreported ticket revenue in its database by “falsely processing or misassigning” ticket revenue from Commanders games as fees related to other events at FedEx Field, including a Kenny Chesney concert.

But Republicans aren’t sold on why the House should get involved in a private business, even if they’re passing information on to the FTC.

“The primary mission of the Oversight and Reform Committee is to root out waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in the federal government,” a Republican on the Oversight Committee said in a statement. “Democrats instead are using all of their resources to publicly attack a private company with no connection to the federal government. Even worse, Democrats are attacking a private company using the claims of a disgruntled ex-employee who had limited access to the team’s finances.”


Republicans on the committee promise to provide “additional context” to the FTC as part of the investigation.

Needless to say, it sounds like the Commanders could be in some major hot water. But hey, at least they got rid of that racist team name, right?


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