When evaluating the NFL’s false claim that, in order to protect any current or former Washington Commanders employee who has requested anonymity while cooperating with the Beth Wilkinson investigation, all facts and findings must be kept completely and utterly secret, we highlighted other situations in which it was sufficient to simply redact the names of people who feared retaliation or unwanted scrutiny.
Turns out, we didn’t have to search as far as we did to find examples. Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) pointed out during his Wednesday questioning of commissioner Roger Goodell that the drafting was good enough for the league, in the report generated by the Miami bullying scandal involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin.
“In the case of the Dolphins, my recollection is that no one asked for confidentiality,” Goodell said.
“They did it because their names were redacted,” Raskin pointed out.
“In Washington, not only did they ask for confidentiality, but in many cases we also promised them confidentiality,” Goodell said.
“That’s what editorial is for,” Raskin replied.
Goodell, finally caught in a corner, gave this final justification: “Congressman, I promise you, writing doesn’t always work in my world.”
But it worked with the Dolphins. And Goodell’s recollection is wrong about whether someone asked for confidentiality. Here is the key passage from the Miami report:
“Because of the extraordinary public interest in this case, the Commissioner has made the decision that the full report as presented to him, without any redactions or changes, will be made public. Accordingly, we have attempted to protect the privacy of some people we have interviewed or written about, recognizing that many of them have never asked to be put in the spotlight. In some cases, witnesses specifically requested that their identities be kept confidential—some even appeared to fear possible retaliation for cooperating with our investigation—and we honored their requests. The NFLPA was sensitive to privacy concerns expressed by some witnesses and assisted in obtaining necessary cooperation. We hope that by being sensitive to privacy issues and requests for confidentiality, we will encourage witnesses to cooperate with any future NFL investigations (unrelated to this case) that may result in public reports.
This is how to find the balance between secrecy and transparency. That’s how the NFL has done it in the past. It is the precedent that has been genuinely forgotten (at best) or deliberately ignored (at worst) by 345 Park Avenue. (We bet the latter.)
The most plausible explanation is that the NFL thinks we are stupid enough to accept the idea that confidentiality cannot be guaranteed without absolute secrecy. Or that the NFL is stubborn enough (and Goodell is skilled enough) to recite dishonest talking points with a straight face until the awkward conversation inevitably ends.
It’s possible, however, giving the NFL the benefit of the doubt, that Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Dreaded Commanders, reverse-engineered the Wilkinson report to determine the names of everyone whose name was removed from the final report. . But if that’s the case — if the NFL reasonably believes Snyder is so vindictive that he would spend time and money figuring out who the Anonymous Employees were in order to retaliate against them — why haven’t they already taken action? any steps to get rid of it?