The Washington Football Team reached a settlement with its former cheerleaders, who appeared in lewd videos made without their knowledge during swimsuit calendar photo shoots in 2008 and 2010.
Attorneys for both sides confirmed the settlement, which, one source said, was actually reached in 2020, though they declined to say exactly when. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The Washington Post first reported news of the settlement. There was no lawsuit filed.
There were two videos made from outtakes during those years in which some private parts were exposed. Certain props were used to shield those body parts and at times those props were insufficient.
The Washington Post detailed those shoots in August, with one former employee, Brad Baker, saying staffers were told to produce a video of this for owner Dan Snyder, who has denied that allegation. Baker worked in the franchise’s broadcast department from 2007 to ’09. The Post reported two other sources saying a similar video was produced at the behest of the team’s former vice president and play-by-play announcer Larry Michael. He, too, has denied the allegation.
The NFL continues to investigate the organization’s culture following a series of Washington Post reports last summer. The stories detailed sexual harassment allegations of 15 women against former team employees. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last week that the investigation, headed by Beth Wilkinson is “nearing the completion.”
“To me, the important thing in the context of this is that the Washington football club has made a lot of changes already,” Goodell said. “Dan and Tanya [Snyder] are going to be done making those changes for the football club. It’s good to see that. But I expect that Beth’s recommendations will be something that will be added to that.”
Meanwhile, the franchise also announced that it had paused its cheerleader program amid their rebranding as they change the name and the logo. The move is not tied to the investigation, per multiple sources. Also, multiple sources said they anticipate the cheer program returning in some capacity.
The franchise also informed the band, formed in 1937 when the franchise relocated from Boston, that it, too, would be paused. But the expectation, a source said, is that the band will return as well.
The team wants to first pick a name and design a logo, then see how it wants to rebrand its other traditions such as cheerleading and the band.
It also needs to hire a director of game-day operations, who will have a pivotal role in shaping the fan experience at FedEx Field. Because of COVID-19, neither the band nor the cheerleaders performed at the stadium this season.
In a statement, team president Jason Wright said, “The time is right to reimagine our entire game day experience, to reinvent it in a way that reflects our modern identity and aligns with what today’s fan seeks.”
The position of cheerleading director was eliminated. Jamilla Keene, who was in that role, is weighing whether to stay with the franchise in another capacity, according to a source.
The franchise retired its former name last summer. During the fall, Wright told ESPN that it could take up to a year to not only find a new name but also complete the branding. He said that even if a new name was picked this offseason, they would keep it quiet while finishing the branding process. He said Football Team, initially picked as a placeholder, is among the possibilities for a permanent name.