NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says he has no authority to remove Daniel Snyder as owner of the Washington Commanders amid ongoing scrutiny into the organization’s workplace culture and accusations from women employees of pervasive sexual harassment by team executives.
Goodell tested Wednesday before members of Congress at a hearing by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. At one point near the end of more than two hours of testimony, Goodell was questioned by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), who asked whether Goodell and the league are “willing to do more” to punish Snyder.
After initially asking whether he would recommend Snyder’s removal as owner of the Commanders, Tlaib followed up by asking Goodell: “Will you remove him?”
“I don’t have the authority to remove him, Congresswoman,” Goodell responded.
An NFL owner can be removed only by a three-quarters (so, 24 out of 32) majority vote of fellow owners, although Goodell does have the ability to officially recommend such a vote.
Snyder was invited to testify but declined, citing overseas business commitments and concerns about due process. Committee chair Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) announced during the hearing that she plans to issue a subpoena to compel him to testify.
“The NFL is unwilling or unable to hold Mr. Snyder accountable,” Maloney said. “That is why I am announcing now my intent to issue a subpoena for Mr. Snyder for a deposition next week. The committee will not be deterred in its investigation into the Washington Commanders.”
Goodell told the committee that the team’s culture has transformed as a result of an investigation led by attorney Beth Wilkinson and that Snyder “has been held accountable.”
After Wilkinson presented her findings to Goodell last year, the NFL fined the team $10 million last year and Snyder stepped away from its day-to-day operations. However, the league did not release a written report of Wilkinson’s findings, a decision Goodell said was intended to protect the privacy of former employees who spoke to investigators.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, the Commanders sent a letter to team employees — a copy of which was obtained by ESPN — that said in part, “We believe the statements that have been made in the media critical of our organization do not accurately reflect our positive transformation and the current reality of the Washington Commanders organization that exists today.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.