Report: NFL owners confronted Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell over ownership change
It’s been a week for fans (and writers) of the Washington NFL football franchise. A report came out Wednesday that Dan and Tanya Snyder have hired Bank of America Securities to pursue their options for a potential sale of the team. At first, there was confusion over whether this was for a minority stake so the Snyders could raise desperately needed capital to pay off loans and potentially build a new stadium, or whether they had finally changed their minds about getting out of the spotlight and selling the entire franchise.
On the same day, there was a report that a criminal investigation was being launched due to allegations of financial deficiencies. This is on top of the Mary Jo White-led investigation of the NFL, which was launched after multiple allegations of sexual harassment directly involving Dan Snyder emerged during the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s investigation into the franchise’s toxic workplace. There are also investigations by attorneys general in DC and Virginia into the financial allegations.
Did I forget to mention the ESPN article stating that Snyder hired investigators to dig up dirt on other NFL owners, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league executives as he prepared for his ownership war? And then there’s Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay who has very publicly called on the league’s owners to consider removing Snyder as owner of the Washington Commanders if the MJW report turns out to be as bad as expected. That would require 24 owners to vote it down; that would involve multiple hearings both in the league and in the courts if Snyder decided to blow the whole thing up on the way out the door. No one wanted to open up the league to that kind of control and protracted battle that would leave the team in limbo.
Report from Ben Fischer via Sports Business Journal sheds some light on what might have led the Snyders to open that door after getting out of the football business. We’ve heard reports of other owners’ opinions turning against Snyder’s continued stewardship of a historic franchise in a big market that has continued to lose fans at an alarming rate since he took over in 1999. Fischer reports that recent events have provided a tipping point, other owners have had to to confront Snyder and also tell Goodell that change has to happen.
Jim Irsay has been the only one to publicly state his position, but other NFL owners have clashed privately with Dan Snyder in recent weeks — and several have told commissioner Roger Goodell that something has to give, sources tell me. The Snyders’ shock announcement Wednesday that they would accept offers for the team, those same sources said, came amid a growing consensus that the end must come, one way or another.
The owners didn’t know if they had the 24 votes needed to force an unprecedented ouster of an NFL owner. When Jerry Richardson was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace, he decided to sell before the heat really started. The feeling was that he was older and didn’t want every detail of his alleged behavior leaked to the media like you see now with Dan Snyder. A lot of owners wouldn’t want that exposure, but they wanted Snyder out, and this was the moment.
Fisher’s sources said this was a business decision and that they believe the scandals constantly surrounding Snyder will not go away anytime soon. Washington’s mismanagement and possible financial malfeasance is hurting the league’s bottom line and other owners’ bank accounts. The implications of Snyder losing Jerry Jones as a backer also encouraged other owners to make more aggressive moves against Snyder. Another thing that bothered the other owners was the idea that if Snyder was able to secure public funds to help build a new stadium, the heat would disappear from the league. That’s a bad look for the NFL, even if it were true.
Now we wait to see when the Snyders officially announce that they are selling the entire team. Potential buyers line up to receive their offers. The latest on a proposed joint venture between Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and rap mogul Jay-Z is that it will made an official offer in January. NFL owners have a shorter meeting in December and then meet for the annual NFL owners meeting March 26-29.
Still, Wednesday’s news came as a surprise. Most of the league woke up believing that Snyder still intended to go to war. “The reason it’s so shocking is because it’s so practical,” said one insider.
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