Melanie Coburn, a former Washington Football Team cheerleader and marketing director, has accused club owner Dan Snyder of leaking Jon Gruden’s racist, homophobic, and misogynistic emails that led to his resignation as Las Vegas Raiders head coach last week.
Gruden’s messages were included among 650,000 emails as part of the NFL’s investigation into hostile workplace and sexual harassment allegations against the Washington Football Team (WFT) — a probe that ended in July, resulting in a $10 million fine for the club and Snyder ceding day-to-day control of the franchise to his wife, Tanya.
Gruden resigned as head coach of the Raiders last week after the emails he sent to then-WFT president Bruce Allen between 2011 and 2018 surfaced in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. An ESPN analyst at the time of the emails, Gruden used racist and homophobic language to refer to league figures like commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL players’ union executive director DeMaurice Smith.
The NFL has denied sharing the Gruden emails to either newspaper.
Now Coburn, who worked with the team’s cheerleaders for 14 years, claims Snyder leaked the emails in an effort to push blame for the team’s sexual harassment scandal onto Allen.
‘I believe Dan Snyder leaked these emails,’ Coburn told Fox News. ‘I believe he’s trying to put all the blame on Bruce Allen.’
Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder (left) has been accused of leaking Jon Gruden’s emails to the media in an effort to push blame for the club’s sexual harassment scandal onto former team president Bruce Allen. Gruden’s messages were included among 650,000 emails as part of the NFL’s investigation into hostile workplace and sexual harassment allegations against the Washington Football Team (WFT) — a probe that ended in July, resulting in a $10 million fine for the club and Snyder ceding day-to-day control of the franchise to his wife, Tanya (right)
Melanie Coburn (left), a former Washington Football Team cheerleader, has accused club owner Dan Snyder of leaking Jon Gruden’s racist, homophobic, and misogynistic emails that led to his resignation as Las Vegas Raiders head coach last week. Coburn, who worked with the team’s cheerleaders for 14 years, claims Snyder leaked the emails in an effort to push blame for the team’s sexual harassment scandal onto former WFT GM Bruce Allen (right)
Jon Gruden (pictured) resigned as head coach of the Raiders last week after the emails he sent to then-WFT president Bruce Allen between 2011 and 2018 surfaced in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. An ESPN analyst at the time of the emails, Gruden used derogatory language to refer to league figures like commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL players’ union executive director DeMaurice Smith
According to Coburn, private investigators working for Snyder spoke to former team cheerleaders to question them about Allen, who was fired in Washington after a 3-13 season in 2019.
‘He sent over a dozen private investigators to my colleagues’ homes across the country … to show up on cheerleaders’ doorstops and ask them what their relationship with Bruce Allen was,’ Coburn said.
‘I feel like he’s trying to pin everything on Bruce, right, and place all the blame for all of the bad culture on him, which just isn’t true.’
Snyder’s attorney, Jordan Siev, denied Coburn’s accusations in a statement to DailyMail.com.
‘Any suggestion by Ms. Coburn that anyone associated with the Washington Football Team was behind any leaks concerning Jon Gruden is categorically false and part of a pattern of misinformation being spread by Ms. Coburn,’ Siev said.
Allen did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
If Coburn’s claim is correct, this wouldn’t be the first time Snyder has shared some of these emails.
Redacted versions of some of Gruden’s emails were also filed in federal court last June as part of Snyder’s efforts to compel Allen to produce discovery in a separate defamation lawsuit filed in India against a tabloid website. Several of the emails included in that court filing and reviewed by DailyMail.com are among the messages leaked to the Times.
Snyder was attempting to prove Allen was involved in a plot to falsely connect him to disgraced investor Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and convicted sex offender who committed suicide in prison in 2019.
Snyder’s motion directing discovery from Allen in the case was dropped in April.
The two have also been at odds over Allen’s severance, which Snyder was forced to pay in full in 2020.
Redacted versions of some of Gruden’s emails were also filed in federal court last June as part of Snyder’s efforts to compel Allen to produce discovery in a separate lawsuit. Several emails included in the court filing and reviewed by DailyMail.com are referenced by the Times
Gruden used a racist trope to describe players’ union chief DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email
Gruden stepped down after The New York Times reported that he frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language directed at commissioner Roger Goodell (pictured) and others
Other emails between Gruden and Allen, which were not included in Snyder’s court filing, appear on the surface to be related team’s sexual harassment issues.
One email leaked to the Times reportedly had photos of women wearing only bikini bottoms, including one photo of two Washington team cheerleaders. The origin of the cheerleader photographs is significant because complaints made by the WFT dancers were at the center of the NFL’s investigation into the club’s workplace culture.
Allegations against team employees ranged from inappropriate comments to the creation of a semi-nude behind-the-scenes video from a cheerleader calendar shoot in 2008, according to a 2020 Washington Post report.
Snyder, himself, was accused of making inappropriate comments to one cheerleader, but has denied the claim. Then, last December, the Post reported that the WFT paid $1.6 million in 2009 to settle a sexual misconduct allegation against Snyder.
This year, the team offered settlements to some former employees who previously accused WFT coworkers of sexual harassment, according to the Post.
The NFL has refused to release emails from the investigation into the WFT, but Coburn and others continue to demand the league open its probe into the club.
‘We know that that is a very, very small fraction of the 650,000 emails that we know they have access to,’ Coburn said. ‘These emails were also a result of the investigation that we participated in — over 150 of us former employees of the Washington Football Team. Countless hours, lots of trauma relived, lots of emotions and anxiety and yet the only person to take fall for these terrible wrongdoings was a coach of another team.’
Lisa Banks, an attorney for the 40 former WFT employees involved in the investigation, agreed with a CNN interviewer on Wednesday that Gruden has been a ‘fall guy’ for the league.
‘Obviously what [Gruden] did and what he wrote was terrible, and he probably deserves to lose his job, but it’s telling that the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders is the only one to lose their job after a 10-month investigation into the Washington Football Team and its culture,’ Banks told CNN.
After nearly a year of demanding the NFL to release its report, Banks said she believes that damning information about the WFT has yet to be revealed.
‘Based on my knowledge and based on my 40 clients and what they provided to the investigators, I know that there’s a lot of damning information about the Washington Football Team and about its owner,’ she said. ‘And I’m sure that there was going to be embarrassing information in that report and for whatever reason, the league decided that it was going to protect the owner and ignore the women.’
In an emailed response to DailyMail.com, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy flatly denied the accusation that the league is covering for Snyder: ‘We are not.’
The NFL is facing increased demands from the NFL players’ union and attorneys representing former Washington Football Team employees to release the findings of its 10-month investigation into sexual harassment and hostile workplace allegations against club. The league has, thus far, refused to release any material from its investigation, citing confidentiality concerns. Leaked emails from the probe resulted in Jon Gruden stepping down as Las Vegas Raiders head coach on Monday. Gruden, who was an ESPN television analyst when the emails were sent between 2011 and 2018, wrote racist, misogynistic and homophobic insults about league figures in the messages to then-WFT executive Bruce Allen. Lisa Banks (right), an attorney for the 40 former WFT employees involved in the investigation, agreed with a CNN interviewer on Wednesday that Gruden has been a ‘fall guy’ for the league
The WFT was fined $10 million but not stripped of any draft picks as part of the league’s discipline that was announced in July stemming from lawyer Beth Wilkinson’s investigation that began in 2020.
The NFL said Wilkinson interviewed more than 150 people, including current and former employees. NFL special counsel for investigations Lisa Friel said individual allegations were not made part of Wilkinson’s report because of confidentiality agreements requested by many people.
Wilkinson recommended establishing protocols for reporting harassment, a disciplinary action plan and regular training for employees. She also said the cheerleading team — which is now a co-ed dance team was part of several changes Washington has made over the past year — needed to be protected.
In two separate Washington Post reports in the summer of 2020, no fewer than 25 women made sexual harassment or other hostile workplace claims against club employees, nearly all of whom departed before or immediately after the accusations were revealed.
The women say they endured unwelcome sexual advances, comments about their physical appearance, and verbal abuse from co-workers or male supervisors. One female employee said she was called ‘f***ing stupid’ and asked to wear a tight dress in a client meeting ‘so the men in the room have something to look at.’
The original Washington Post report cited former employee Emily Applegate (pictured) and 14 mostly anonymous women, many of whom claimed they were left unsupported by an understaffed human resources department
Former Redskins cheerleader Tiffany Bacon Scourby claims Snyder suggested that she join his ‘close friend’ in a hotel room so they ‘could get to know each other’ back in 2004
The Post report cited former employee Emily Applegate and 14 mostly anonymous women, many of whom claimed they were left unsupported by an understaffed human resources department.
Snyder, himself, was accused of telling a team cheerleader named Tiffany Bacon Scourby in 2004 that she should go to a hotel room with a personal friend of his so the two could ‘get to know each other.’
He was also accused of warning the team’s cheerleading director to ensure the dancers are ‘skinny with big tits’ or he would ‘f***ing kill him.’
Snyder has denied both of these claims.
One club executive instructed employees to create a lewd behind-the-scenes video of partially nude cheerleaders at a 2008 calendar shoot, according to the latest wave of accusations against the embattled NFL franchise.
In July, Snyder hired Washington law firm Wilkinson Walsh LLP to review the team’s culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct. The NFL ultimately took over the investigation with Wilkinson reporting to the Commissioner’s office.
That investigation revealed a potentially relevant 2009 settlement, which Snyder has fought to keep private.
Redskins cheerleaders seen dancing as part of a 2004 event, where Tiffany Bacon Scourby claims Snyder suggested she spend some time with a close friend of his in a nearby hotel room
In an emergency motion reviewed by DailyMail.com that was filed in a Virginia federal court in December, Snyder’s attorneys declared that he intended to assert ‘privileges and privacy’ in the matter. The Washington Post was the first to report the motion, which revealed the 2009 settlement.
On July 17, Snyder issued a statement that said the story ‘strengthened my commitment to setting a new culture and standard for our team, a process that began with the hiring of Coach [Ron] Rivera earlier this year.’
Some of the 25 women said they decided to talk because Snyder’s response angered them. A few of them, The Post said, pointed fingers at executives.
Several names from the previous report resurfaced in the second wave of allegations, including Alex Santos, who was fired as pro personnel director in 2020, Larry Michael, the team’s now-former radio play-by-play announcer, and former president of business operations Dennis Greene, who left during a previous cheerleader scandal in 2018 (see below).
Santos was accused of repeatedly asking out former team intern Shannon Slate in 2016, often commenting on her clothing and once telling her the dress she was wearing was ‘a little too short for me not to look at.’
The club formerly known as the Washington Redskins changed its name to the Washington Football Team in 2020 after years of criticism from Native American groups who found it offensive. The club is still looking for a permanent nickname
When slate approached chief financial officer Stephen Choi to complain, he told the 22-year-old ‘this is a sports organization; men dominate it,’ Slate told The Post, adding that she was advised to avoid Santos or end her internship prematurely.
Previously Santos was accused of pinching a reporter, The Athletic’s Rhiannon Walker, and telling her she had an ‘a** like a wagon.’
Santos and Gershman declined to comment to the newspaper, and Greene did not respond to requests for a comment.
The Post also reported that Michael ordered his staff to make a video for Snyder showing ‘lewd outtakes’ from the film shoot for the team’s 2008 cheerleader swimsuit calendar.
A general view of an empty section of seats with a Washington Football Team logo before the game between the Washington Football Team and the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on October 25
This was not the first time that former team cheerleaders have accused the club of condoning an inappropriate work atmosphere.
In 2018, The New York Times reported that the team trip to Costa Rica crossed professional boundaries, with some cheerleaders claiming they were forced to pose topless during a calendar shoot while an all-male group of sponsors and fans watched.
Greene is alleged to have sold access to those cheerleaders in 2013, and left the franchise in 2018 after the report was published.
Several alleged that nine cheerleaders were picked by certain sponsors to be their personal escorts that same night, and while they say sex was not a part of that assignment, they said they felt compelled to cooperate.
Coming off a 14-hour day, some of the exhausted cheerleaders reportedly began to cry upon learning about the ‘escort’ assignment.
According to the report, the cheerleaders felt the trip was mandatory, even though they were not being paid. The team did cover transportation, meals and lodging.
Some of the cheerleaders were left feeling ‘worthless and unprotected’ afterwards, claiming the Redskins were were ‘pimping [them] out.’
Former Redskins cheerleading captains Charo Bishop and Rachel Gill refuted those claims to NBC’s Today Show after the 2018 report was published.
CURRENT AND FORMER WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM EMPLOYEES ACCUSED OF MISCONDUCT OR NEGLIGENCE:
Former Washington Redskins director of pro personnel Alex Santos
Director of pro personnel Alex Santos: Six former employees and two reporters who covered the team told the Washington Post that Santos made inappropriate remarks to them about their appearances. He also asked them if they were interested in him romantically. In 2019, he allegedly pinched Rhiannon Walker, a reporter for The Athletic, and told her she had ‘an ass like a wagon.’ This resulted in an internal investigation. Another reporter, the Ringer’s Nora Princiotti, also accused Santos of harassing her. Santos, who declined to speak with The Post, was fired in July.
Team radio play-by-play announcer Larry Michael: Seven former employees told The Post that ‘the voice of the Washington Redskins’ frequently talked openly about female co-workers looks, often making sexually disparaging remarks. He was once caught on a ‘hot mic’ in 2018 discussing the looks of one intern, six sources told The Post. He is also accused of ordering employees to edit together a video of lewd behind-the-scenes outtakes from a 2008 calendar shoot. Michael, who declined to speak with The Post, retired after 16 seasons in July.
Former radio announcer Larry Michael (left) and former assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II (right)
Assistant director of pro personnel Richard Mann II: In a text message obtained by The Post, Mann told a female colleague that he and other men in the office debated whether she had plastic surgery on her breasts. He also warned another female coworker to expect an ‘inappropriate hug’ from him, adding, ‘don’t worry that will be a stapler in my pocket, nothing else.’ Mann declined to speak with The Post after being fired in July.
Former president of business operations Dennis Greene
President of business operations Dennis Greene: Five former employees told The Post that Greene asked female sales staffers to wear revealing outfits and flirt with wealthy season ticket holders and suite holders. Greene worked for the club for 17 years until 2018, when it was revealed that he had sold access to team cheerleaders at a bikini photo shoot in Costa Rica as part of a ticket package. According to a New York Times investigation, the 2013 calendar shoot did not involve any sex, but team officials did worry the cheerleaders by taking their passports. Some cheerleaders say they were required to be topless, although the shoot did not include any nudity. After a 14-hour shoot one day, nine of the 36 cheerleaders were reportedly asked to escort suite holders to a local nightclub. Several of the women began to cry, according to the Times. Greene declined to comment and has not worked for the team since he resigned in 2018.
Chief operating officer Mitch Gershman: Former team employee Emily Applegate said he would routinely compliment her body while also regularly berating her for insignificant problems, like printer malfunctions. Her allegations were supported by two other female former employees. When contacted, Gershman told The Post, ‘I barely even remember who she is,’ adding that he ‘would apologize to anyone who thought I was verbally abusive.’ Gershman left the team in 2015.
Team president Bruce Allen: Although he is not accused of any misconduct, Applegate claims Allen must have known about the abuse she was receiving because ‘he sat 30 feet away from me… and saw me sobbing at my desk several times a week.’ The brother of former Virginia Governor and US Senator George Allen, Bruce Allen was fired after the 2019 season.
Majority owner Dan Snyder: A former cheerleader named Tiffany Bacon Scourby told the Washington Post Snyder suggested that she join his ‘close friend’ in a hotel room in 2004 so they ‘could get to know each other.’ The 55-year-old billionaire is also accused of belittling executives, according to three members of the executive staff. Specifically, he mocked Dennis Greene for being a college cheerleader, once allegedly ordering him to do cartwheels for his amusement. He’s reportedly quarreling with the team’s minority partners, who wish to unload their shares, but could likely get more if he were willing to sell too. Snyder has privately settled one sexual harassment allegation, according to The New York Times and Washington Post, and the league is currently conducting an investigation of the team. Snyder remains the team’s owner, but has stepped away from day-to-day involvement with the club and made his wife Tanya co-CEO a day before the league imposed its $10 million fine.
Neither team owner Dan Snyder (left) or recently fired team president Bruce Allen (right) are accused of any misconduct, but sources did tell The Post that they should have been aware about the workplace culture, and neither did enough to stop it