Once again, my clipboard is populated with items related to allegations of crimes or sociopathic behaviors on the part of people in the sports world. We are in the latter stages of the COVID pandemic, but it seems that there is an anti-social behavior pandemic raging in the sports world. Let me begin today with the report that Dan Ventrelle and the Las Vegas Raiders have parted ways; Ventrelle had been the team president.
That seemingly benign happening was quickly turned sour when Ventrelle alleged that he was fired because he had reported a “toxic work environment” to the league complaints that involved Raiders’ owner, Mark Davis. In the parlance of folks who specialize in HR stuff, I believe this is called “retaliation”.
Here is Ventrelle’s statement:
“Today, Mark Davis terminated my employment as President of the Las Vegas Raiders. I have committed almost 18 years of my life to the success of the Raiders as General Counsel and President. I take that responsibility very seriously, which is why multiple written complaints from employees that Mark created a hostile work environment and engaged in other potential misconduct caused me grave concern.
“When Mark was confronted about these issues, he was dismissive and did not demonstrate the warranted level of concern. Given this, I informed the NFL of these issues and of Mark’s unacceptable response.
“Soon thereafter, I was fired in retaliation for raising these concerns. I firmly stand by my decision to elevate these issues to protect the organization and its female employees. I remain committed to doing everything in my power to support the Raiders and the Las Vegas community I now call home. I have retained counsel and will have no further comment at this time.”
Here is the NFL response:
“We recently became aware of these allegations and take them very seriously. We will promptly look into the matter.”
When the NFL says “look into the matter”, what they will first “look into” is how to make it appear that there will be an “independent investigation” even though the NFL is paying for it and how the league will find a way not to reveal any of the facts that the “independent investigator” comes up with lest someone outside the NFL’s inner circle draw a conclusion that might differ from the inner circle’s. Maybe there will be a coin toss to see if this investigation will be done by Beth Wilkinson (she of the Dan Snyder “toxic culture” investigation) or by Mary Jo White (she of the Ezekiel Elliott investigation and of the Dan Snyder “financial irregularities ongoing investigation”.)
Seems to me that it is time to cite an adage:
- Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Let me do a cursory review here:
- Jerry Richardson was accused of improper workplace comments and actions, and he chose to sell his team instead of forcing an “investigation”.
- Dan Snyder and his front office employees stand accused by more than a dozen women of inappropriate behavior. That “investigation” is complete, but the league will not release the findings because it never asked for a written report of those findings.
- Jerry Jones faced a paternity suit earlier this year; that suit has been withdrawn by the plaintiff without prejudice meaning it could reappear at any time.
- Dean Spanos is being sued by members of his family who claim he has screwed them over financially.
- Stephen Ross and Jimmy Haslem were both accused by former coaches of offering bonuses for losing games to enhance draft status.
- Now Mark Davis is in the crosshairs of a lawsuit involving improper behavior in the workplace.
[Aside: These examples come off the top of my head; I do not know how to search legal archives where there would surely be other actions that slipped my attention.]
There is one aspect of this Raiders’ matter about which I am confident. The NFL will do anything and everything possible to keep a lid on the “investigation” and its findings. That has been its strategy and tactics regarding any such complaints of this type; I see no reason for a deviation here.
In another “legal issue” related to the NFL, a judge in Texas has issued an arrest warrant for former Ravens and Seahawks safety, Earl Thomas. The judge in the matter determined that there was sufficient reason to believe that Thomas had violated a court restraining order when he sent threatening messages to a woman about her and her children. According to reports, Thomas faces a “third degree felony” charge in the matter for violating that restraining order two or more times in the past 12 months. Thomas has been out of the NFL for the last two seasons but has been trying to sign on as a free agent in this offseason; this action does not add positively to his résumé.
Thomas’ attorney has a totally benign explanation for this:
“They were consciously and collectively working together to see his kids; I don’t really understand how he could be in violation by working together to visit with his children.”
This one is not over, either…
Finally, let me close today with a comment by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times last weekend:
“The Cincinnati Reds are off to their worst 25-game start ever — 3-22.
“It’s gotten so bad even Pete Rose won’t bet on them.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………