Fifteen former female employees of the Washington NFL team have come forward to detail the rampant sexual harassment they say they experienced from team executives. An exposé by the Washington Post includes harrowing accounts from the women, who say they were routinely subjected to belittling remarks and verbal abuse. The bombshell story also includes allegations of sexual harassment from two female beat reporters, both of whom accuse the same now-ex football personnel executive of propositioning them and making lewd remarks about their looks.
Rhiannon Walker, who covers the Washington club for The Athletic, and Nora Princiotti, who formerly covered the team for the Post, and now works for The Ringer, both say the organization’s former director of pro personnel, Alex Santos, sexually harassed them. Santos was fired last week, along with his assistant director of pro personnel, Richard Mann II, who’s also named in the story; six women allege they were sexually harassed by Santos. Longtime team play-by-play voice Larry Michael, who allegedly made frequent sexual comments about female employees and interns, abruptly retired last week as well. Washington has hired an outside attorney to review team protocols.
Walker says Santos first came onto her at the 2019 NFL Combine, approaching her at Prime 47, an Indianapolis steakhouse famous for hosting NFL reporters and personnel during the event. After showing Walker pictures of his wife and young daughter, she says Santos told her she had “worn the f—” out of her jeans the previous day, and asked whether she would date him if they were single.
Walker, who has a girlfriend, says she quickly denied his advances.
“I told him that I do have a girlfriend and he does have a wife, so we don’t need to play hypotheticals here,” she told the Post. “I was pretty blunt.”
Later in the evening, Walker says Santos pinched her hips, and continued flirting with her. The demeaning interaction prompted Walker to file a complaint with the team.
“It felt like pretty much the worst thing in the world,” she said. “He didn’t care. He thought it was funny.”
Princiotti also shared her stories about Santos making sexually explicit comments about her appearance, including his sophomoric nickname for her, “Prinicihotti.”
In a first-person essay for The Athletic, Walker says she opened up about her experiences with the hope her honesty can help others in similarly excruciating situations.
“I think my speaking out can help someone else,” she writes. “Ease the pain they’re going through. Give someone else the courage to speak up. Make someone think twice about doing this to someone else. I have to believe those things, because if not, what was the point of me enduring all of this? I have to genuinely believe some good will come of this situation.”