Washington’s NFL team and owner Daniel Snyder has a long way to go to repair the damage from a Washington Post story that exposed numerous complaints of sexual harassment.
To start that process Washington is replacing Larry Michael, the team’s longtime play-by-play radio announcer who was accused of misconduct in the Post’s story, with Julie Donaldson of NBC Sports Washington. In addition to leading the radio broadcast team Donaldson will have a senior-level role in the organization, NBC Sports Washington confirmed.
It’s fair to be skeptical if this signals the start of change in the organization or if it’s a public-relations move strategically leaked to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. But it is a great opportunity for Donaldson, a longtime reporter and anchor in Washington, and a rare opportunity for a woman in NFL broadcasting.
Julie Donaldson has been on Washington sports scene for a decade
There aren’t many women leading broadcast teams around major professional sports. Beth Mowins got a “Monday Night Football” assignment in 2017 and later that year became the first female play-by-play announcer on CBS’ NFL coverage. Jenny Cavnar has handled play-by-play duties for some Colorado Rockies games, the first woman in decades to call an MLB game on TV. Jessica Mendoza (MLB) and Doris Burke (NBA) have been pioneers in color commentary for their sports.
The list isn’t long. Via NBC Sports Washington, Donaldson will be the first woman to be a regular member of an NFL team’s radio broadcast booth, according to Westwood One. Donaldson had been a reporter, anchor and host at NBC Sports Washington since 2010 covering the local teams there. She had hosted NBC Sports Washington’s pregame and postgame NFL shows.
Donaldson posted a Twitter thread expressing her excitement:
It is with great humility & sincere appreciation that I accept the new position of the Washington Football Team's Senior VP of Media and Content. This is a challenge I've been preparing and working toward for nearly 20 yrs in sports media, including the last decade in Washington.— Julie Donaldson (@JDonaldsonNBCS) July 21, 2020
I would like to thank team owner Dan Snyder for trusting me with this tremendous opportunity.— Julie Donaldson (@JDonaldsonNBCS) July 21, 2020
I'm honored to serve this large, passionate and loyal fanbase, and excited to join a leadership team dedicated to making this proud and respected organization stronger than ever.
In this new role, I aim to bring exciting and innovative ways of delivering the gameday experience to fans, and continue my passion of telling compelling and relatable stories. I want to connect this team to the fans, and vice versa, in new and engaging ways year-round.— Julie Donaldson (@JDonaldsonNBCS) July 21, 2020
As a nation, we find ourselves in a time where change is demanded and needed in our society. I'm committed to be an advocate for positive change. I want to support others in and around the organization, and across the community, to ensure their voices are heard and respected.— Julie Donaldson (@JDonaldsonNBCS) July 21, 2020
It's also my ambition to encourage and set an example for those who want to follow my path, those who share this dream of mine.— Julie Donaldson (@JDonaldsonNBCS) July 21, 2020
I fully understand the demands of this role and significance of being the first female to hold this position in the NFL.
There will surely be many challenges and lessons along the way. Thanks to the support of my managers & colleagues at NBC Sports Washington over the last ten years, I come into this with confidence.— Julie Donaldson (@JDonaldsonNBCS) July 21, 2020
I look forward to serving the local and national Washington Football Team faithful
It’s a great opportunity for Donaldson. Of course, it does come at a tumultuous time for the organization.
Washington has been an embarrassment under Daniel Snyder
Everything about Snyder’s team should be viewed through a skeptical lens.
Washington had been involved in a story regarding an inappropriate work environment for team cheerleaders long before the Washington Post story was released. Other stories and allegations should have brought about change but nothing was done.
Snyder has talked about a culture change, on the field and off, but it’s mostly empty noise considering how poorly Washington has been run under his ownership. Perhaps the hiring of Donaldson is a sign of true change and progress, which is long overdue for that team.
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