As more and more reports surface suggesting that attorney Mary Jo White's investigation of the Washington Commanders is nearing its conclusion, it's perhaps worth considering, and maybe even recalibrating, expectations.
This was a notion raised by 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, as evidence seemingly mounts that Ms. White's investigation may not deliver the goods, in the same way that Beth Wilkinson's investigation served as a letdown to many Commanders fans.
"We keep saying maybe the league's holding this over Dan's head, maybe they want him to sell and this thing could be so bad that they threaten him, that if he just goes away and sells, that it'll never see the light of day," Paulsen said. "But then as I started poking around yesterday and talking to people, it seems to me, Danny, like the Mary Jo White investigation is almost exclusively into claims by Tiffani Johnston — about Dan [allegedly] inappropriately touching her as she was getting into a limo and on her leg under a table at one point the same night — and maybe even some of the cooking-of-the-books stuff with Jason Friedman."
"That, not necessarily the Tiffani Johnston thing, but that Friedman stuff has been investigated thoroughly and I think concluded in other capacities," he said. "Now, maybe she'll find something that other people don't find. Do we know for sure that this is Wilkinson 2.0? That this is this all-inclusive 'I'm going to look into what happened on the plane coming back from the country music awards, that I'm going to overturn every stone and talk to all the people that got fired for sexual harassment'?"
"Because if she's just looking into these two things over 13 months," he added, "isn't there a chance this thing ends up being a letdown for a lot of people who think this could be the smoking gun?"
"I have made this mistake. I am 100 percent guilty of this," Rouhier offered. "I went back and read and there is specific language here: 'We are investigating the new claims.' That's from Roger Goodell. The league is going to investigate the new information that came to light via the House Oversight Committee, the things that we didn't know before."
"Because we hadn't heard from Tiffani Johnston prior," he continued. "We hadn't heard Jason Friedman under oath going through the different iterations, the two sets of books, and maybe potentially withholding customer deposits back and those sorts of things. That new information — not the old stuff that Beth Wilkinson gave us, quite frankly an unsatisfying conclusion — that to me is the ultimate letdown in this entire process.
"The NFL [being] complicit with the team, just sort of agreeing: Yeah, it's best for business if we just don't do this publicly. We'll do a news dump over July 4th and we'll all go our separate ways and we'll be just fine. Business of football will continue. I've made this mistake in my mind somehow, that I have now blown it up into: Now she's gonna comb over all the stuff that was swept under the rug, we're gonna get the big reveal, they're holding it over his head. This is the ultimate thing."
"And maybe she will," Paulsen replied. "Listen, it's possible that she does that."
"Maybe she will," said Rouhier, "but that's not what was stated."
Paulsen then mentioned that after speaking with a number of different sources, he started to glean that there were certain people he assumes would have spoken to Ms. White by now who have yet to hear from her.
"Here's what got me poking around on this," he said. "I started asking people [Wednesday] just based on the guests that we've had on telling us that this thing's coming out soon. We had Lisa Banks yesterday tell us that she thinks it's nearing an end, that the investigation's almost done. Don Van Natta on Audacy D.C. said the same thing – I think with Craig – going back the day or two before, that he thinks the Mary Jo White investigation and report could be out soon."
"Peter King has hinted at it," Rouhier added.
"Good point. Yep, Peter King as well," Paulsen said. "So I just started asking people around the team during the heyday, if you will, of all of these terrible things, and even people since then. Hey, have you talked to her yet? Have you had any conversations? And I kept getting one 'no' after one 'no.'
"And I was like, how is it possible that this guy, that guy, who were around the organization...? You would just figure, if you're really doing an evaluation of Dan's character or the workplace, or what was going on over these years or how out of control things were, you'd probably want to do a pretty thorough job over your 13 months of interviewing, right? So I started to think: What am I missing here?"
"And as I started to talk to some of the people on the Lisa Banks side of things, the former employee side," Paulsen continued, "they said, 'Well remember, there's a chance she's just looking into the allegations from Tiffani and from Jason Friedman.' Which, is not nothing for the record, and I don't want to belittle or diminish two very serious allegations, and specifically the trauma that it sounds like Tiffani Johnston went through with what happened with Dan Snyder, allegedly."
"That said, Danny," he continued. "I just think we keep talking about this thing like we're going to get the written Wilkinson report now that we didn't get before. Are we sure about that? Where is that idea coming from?
"And is it just self-fulfilling, where we've all just kind of assumed? Remember, the Wilkinson report was the thing that we wanted. That's what we're talking about. She talked to the woman that was on the plane. She talked to everyone involved over years and years and years. The thing never saw the light of day."
"Now, in the Van Natta story, lest we forget," Paulsen went on, "Van Natta — and I hadn't seen this written anywhere — confirmed that in the retainment of Wilkinson, initially, they told her that they wanted a written report. That's in the retainment. And at some point that changed and the league urged her just to do a verbal report."
"Yeah, it changes when you get into the common interest agreement that has been much publicized, that we all know about, that we've now discovered," Rouhier said. "It's a tacit agreement between the two parties... between Washington and the league: Hey, it's in our best interest if this thing goes away, basically.
"So each side can say: 'You've got to ask them. Well you've got to ask them. You've got to ask them. You've got to ask them.' If you want documents subpoenaed, if you want witnesses, if you want everybody else."
Rouhier went on to confess that after a period of self-reflection and re-evaluating the information that's available, he realized he's been "wish-casting" the outcome that would be most preferable to him.
"For the record, I think Dan's selling," Paulsen went on to say. "I have thought that for a while. I think it's because he doesn't have the money to continue to run the team. I don't know what changed or why, but I think he kind of decided at some point a couple months ago he was taking his ball and he was going home. He's hanging out in London with Tanya Snyder and I believe they are going to sell."
"I have felt that for a while," he added. "And I don't think the Mary Jo White investigation being massive or being a flop, like the Wilkinson report that never got put out was, in the sense that the league did nothing about any of the wrongdoing that we think happened. I don't think that's going to change anything."
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