Michael McCann is a law professor from the University of New Hampshire with a specialty in sports law who teaches a course in DeflateGate, among others. And just by way of full disclosure, he was a regular guest on my old WEEI show. And his latest piece is about Dan Snyder's Team Formerly Known as the R-words lawyering up by hiring their own investigator to look into their own alleged wrongdoing.
You don't have to have a law degree though to see the blatant conflict of interest in an organization paying the billable hours of someone to uncover a damaging pattern of illegal and creepish, borderline sexually assaulty behavior by its own executives. In fact, you don't need to be able to spell "lawyer" to see what a Jenga tower of deep-fried bullshit this investigation is. It's not a magnifying glass for finding the truth, it's a shield. Timed so that Snyder and anyone who's still on his payroll can "no comment" the bejeebers out of any questions about the allegations by hiding behind the investigation.
While McCann's article does give Snyder some legal cover for doing it this way, the hypocrisy of it is still there. And at least one anonymous team president agrees there's a double standard here.
“Independent” investigations by teams sometimes attract skepticism. The attorneys are paid by the teams and enter into an attorney-client relationship with them. Ethics rules require that attorneys zealously advocate for their clients.
Given that Snyder is ultimately paying the attorneys’ bills, could their report conclude in writing that the team broke the law (which might strengthen potential legal claims by the complainants and also give them additional reason to sue) or that Snyder engaged in conduct that could warrant his removal from the league?
Sue Ann Van Dermyden, a senior partner at Dermyden Maddux Law Corporation and a workplace investigations expert ... tells Sportico that a workplace investigation “rarely if ever determines if conduct is unlawful.” ...
Even if the Washington investigation is not designed to advocate for the team, materials gathered and transcripts of interviews conducted by attorney-investigators are typically subject to attorney-client privilege. This can make an investigation inaccessible to others—a not insignificant worry when Washington could be sued by the complainants or if the NFL demands a full accounting. ...
As things stand now, the NFL will rely on a report by team-commissioned investigators.
Sportico spoke with one team president who is incredulous the league is not conducting its own investigation into Snyder.
“Would they do that to a lesser owner? No way.”
Imagine if Roger Goodell let some other franchises handle their own investigations? Allow the owners to write the checks to the people doing the digging? People who, by definition are employed by the club and therefore subject to not reveal anything due to attorney-client privilege? The Saints with BountyGate. The Dolphins with BullyGate. Jerry Richardson being a general old perv in Carolina. And not to make this all about me, but a certain franchise in the Northeast who've been accused of a lot of thing that have cost them a lot of draft picks and millions of dollars. Every one of them could've taken shelter behind the impenetrable fortress of the privilege and it wouldn't have cost them a thing except some lawyer's fees. But it's pretty obvious this sniveling weasel has more juice than those other owners and Goodell doesn't have the balls to stand up to him.
At least somebody did.