National Football League cheerleaders is calling on the NFL to release its full report on workplace culture after allegations surfaced that coaches secretly shared nude photos of them via email.
Emails, first reported by New York Times Monday, allegedly sent by the commentator then of ESPN Jon Gruden then Washington Football Team General Manager Bruce Allen (who hired Gruden’s brother, Jay, to coach the team, then called the Redskins) and many other men.
Both teams have been hit by lawsuits from their cheerleaders in recent years; the Washington Football team for allegedly sharing a secret, uncensored video of a cheerleader photoshoot with executives; the Raiders for allegedly failing to pay the minimum wage of its cheerleaders. Both teams settled out of court.
The emails involving Gruden – who resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after the newspaper published his email threads full of racist, misogynistic and homophobic commentary – were some of the 650,000 investigators reviewed during the resumption. of an investigation into workplace culture on The Washington Football team ordered by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (he himself was a subject of some of Gruden’s crude insults) last year. The investigation ended in July with a $ 10 million fine against the team-one of the most painful ever imposed by the NFL-and reopened this summer to check emails, a league spokesman said in a statement. “Surprising, disgusting and completely contrary to NFL values. “
The report has not yet been released to the public, or to the women who complained. Instead, the cheerleaders were left to find out about the extreme photo incident in the press, nearly four months later.
“It’s disgusting, really, to see that there’s so much evidence of exploitation and abuse among cheerleaders that I’ve worked closely with,” said Melanie Coburn, a cheerleader for the Washington Football Team cheerleader for four years. and director of marketing squad for 10.
Many of the women who sued behind the videos signed NDAs as part of their settlement, Coburn added.
“They’re coming out now wondering,‘ Heck, more than these two videos, ’” he said. “I can only imagine how they feel, and they have no voice.”
Coburn started a petition in February—Months before the investigation ends-calls on the NFL to release the report to the public and return the cheerleading squad, which was transformed into a co-ed dance squad following the settlement. He repeated his call on Tuesday, telling The Daily Beast: “I know many others where these emails came from.” More than 39,000 people had signed the petition as of Tuesday night.
Lacy Thibodeaux-Fields, a former cheerleader for the Raiders, echoed Coburn’s message. The 35-year-old lawsuit against the Raiders for wage theft in 2014, set a rash of similar lawsuits by cheerleaders across the country. The team eventually negotiated with Thibodeaux-Fields and the 100 women who joined her suit in 2017, but the former Raiderette said she did not receive an apology.
He told The Daily Beast that the latest email scandal was further evidence of “misogynistic, racist, very sexist culture” in the NFL, and called on them to release the full report.
“Everyone who pays and supports the NFL deserves to know what kind of people run the show and what they support,” he said.
The Washington Football team in particular has been hit by a murder of allegations of current and former cheerleaders in recent years. In 2018, former executive Dennis Greene resigned after it was reported that he sold access to a topless cheerleader photoshoot to wealthy patrons as part of a suit package. Five cheerleaders told The New York Times they were also required to attend nightclubs with men and act as their dates.
In the video incident in the background, first reported by the Washington Post last year, Washington Football Team staff members were asked to take footage from the swimsuit shoot and edit it into a video featuring only “the good bit” – broken bare nipples and pubic regions exposed as cheerleaders change clothes or change position. The resulting 10-minute video was then delivered to team owner Daniel Snyder, according to the Post. (Snyder denies the allegations.)
Candass Correll, who entertained the team from 2016 to this year, said she was disappointed that incidents like this seemed to return allegations of racism or homophobia within the league. “This report has been going on for over a year and we as actual victims still don’t see it,” said Correll, who is Black. “If not for [the New York Times article,] we don’t know that those photos went through mail servers between these two really important people in the NFL. “
Women’s issues in the NFL, she added, are “not prioritized or honestly seen as issues, because they’re swept under the rag, like, ‘Oh, that’s what they’re doing, that’s what’s happening.'”
The 2020 investigation is seen by some as a way to address these issues, which have haunted the league for years. Attorney Beth Wilkinson has interviewed nearly 150 current and former Washington Football Club employees throughout the year. At the conclusion of the review, the NFL said investigators found that bullying and intimidation “occurred frequently” at the club, and that “many female employees reported experiencing sexual harassment and a general absence. of respect in the workplace. ” The club focused on 10 of Wilkinson’s recommendations, including regular culture and training surveys, a more diverse workforce, and an HR employee specifically assigned to the cheer squad.
However, Snyder was allowed to retain his ownership and no written report was ever released. Both Fatima Goss Graves, the CEO of the National Women Law Center, and Kim Gandy, the former CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, said The New York Times at the conclusion of the investigation that the penalties were insufficient, and the report to be released in full.
Courtney DeYoung, a 12 -year veteran of the cheerleading team, echoed these comments on Tuesday.
Asked what he wanted to see from the NFL, he said: “I’ll just say release the freaking report.”
“Let’s have transparency and then let’s decide what to do in moving forward,” he added. “Let’s stop protecting the men’s club and just release it.”