The controversy that led Dan Snyder to consider selling Commanders

The controversy that led Dan Snyder to consider selling Commanders


An announcement Wednesday that Daniel Snyder would hire an investment bank to look into a potential sale of the Washington Commanders it arrived after a whirlwind of events over the past 2½ years, a period in which change, controversy and scandal engulfed Snyder and the franchise he has owned since 1999.

Snyder’s grip on the franchise, a once beloved civic institution diminished by two decades of dysfunction, has loosened in recent weeks as calls from fans to sell the team extended to the league’s ownership circles, the majority vocally by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. Even then, Snyder made defiant statements that he would never sell the team – having once stated that he would never change the team’s name, which he finally did under pressure from sponsors in 2020.

Since Snyder rejected the name, a move that was supposed to strengthen his position in the league, the whirlwind of accusations and investigations that followed threatened his status. Snyder has long been the subject of scorn from fans and eye rolls from fellow owners. But the tumult of the past 2½ years paved the way for Wednesday’s announcement.

Dan Snyder hires investment bank to look at ‘potential transactions’

On July 13, 2020, a few days after the team was sponsored by FedEx urged the franchise to drop the name “Redskins” under the explanation that it was an insult, the team announced that it would “retire” the name without introducing an immediate replacement. In the weeks leading up to the announcement, three minority owners started the process of selling their shares, which totaled 40 percent of the franchise.

Three days later, The Washington Post published the report in which more than ten women alleged sexual harassment and verbal abuse by team employees. The allegations led to the firing or resignation of several front-office officials, including longtime radio voice Larry Michael, and prompted Snyder to hire high-powered attorney Beth Wilkinson explore the workplace of the team.

In mid-August, Snyder hired Jason Wright to replace Bruce Allen, making Wright the first black NFL team president. The selection of Wright, a former NFL quarterback turned highly regarded business consultant, was widely praised. The goodwill would not last.

The The Post published another story on August 26, 2020, in which former employees alleged more lewd behavior in the workplace, including the production of a video with footage of partially nude cheerleaders filmed without their knowledge in a photo shoot. Five days later, The NFL took over Wilkinson’s Investigations. The Post would later report that Snyder, contrary to his public statements, was obstructing the investigation.

As the investigation progressed, Snyder’s resentment against his minority partners grewrevealed court documents released in December 2020. In March 2021, the owners on the NFL’s finance committee approved debt relief. allowed Snyder to borrow $450 million to buy out the partners, which put the entire franchise in his hands.

The results of Wilkinson’s investigation came months later, almost a year after it began. On July 2, 2021 The NFL fined Snyder $10 million and, while not officially suspending Snyder, said his wife, Tanya Snyder, would take control of the franchise. The league did not release Wilkinson’s report but offered a summary, a decision that drew widespread criticism and continues to reverberate.

“The culture of the club was very toxic and it was far below the values ​​of the NFL,” said Lisa Friel, the league’s special counsel for investigations.

In response to the league’s decision not to release the full findings of Wilkinson’s investigation, the House Oversight and Reform Committee in October 2021 opened an investigation into the team’s workplace culture in part to pressure the NFL to make disclosures.

That same month, the Wall Street Journal and New York Times published excerpts of emails then-Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden sent to Allen in 2011. included racist, homophobic language. The emails were part of a trove of documents reviewed by the NFL as part of its investigation. Many in the league suspected they were exposed by Snyder or one of his employees, which Tanya Snyder reportedly denied to her fellow owners at a league meeting.

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Washington finished the 2021 season without a name, still in the hands of the Washington football team. On Feb. 2 — days after former quarterback Joe Theismann dropped the new name during a radio interview — the franchise revealed it had chosen to be called the Commanders.

The next day, the former cheerleader and marketing manager Tiffani Johnston accused Cheater of sexual harassment in testimony to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, part of a series of new allegations presented to the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

In response to the new allegations aimed directly at Snyder, the NFL has engaged former US Attorney Mary Jo White to investigate and prepare a report for Commissioner Roger Goodell. The investigation is ongoing.

The congressional committee met again in late June, days after The Post reported that Snyder had paid the former staffer a $1.6 million settlement in 2009. she accused Snyder of sexual assault. Snyder has denied the allegations. Goodell testified via Zoom lawmakers for 2½ hours while the chair with Snyder’s name in front of it sat empty because he refused to attend. The committee would subpoena Snyder, and he did 10-hour deposition in July.

As the allegations and investigations mounted, Snyder tackled the dilemma of finding a new stadium to replace FedEx Field, an aging facility the franchise wants to move out of by 2027. Snyder found reluctant partners in local municipalities in three states. Commanders discovered it in May has acquired the rights to purchase 200 acres in Woodbridge, Va., as a possible location for the stadium. Several congressmen from Virginia raised fierce opposition to handle the team, one of them doubled weeks later when he was the defensive coordinator Jack del Rio downplayed the failed January 6 rebellion as “dust”.

As the league prepared for White’s findings, sentiment among owners shifted, several people told The Post. By September, many owners believed the league should force Snyder to sell the franchise. A forced sale would require the approval of 24 of the 32 owners. An ESPN report last month, in which anonymous people said Snyder told associates he “had dirt” on his fellow owners, fueled the tension.

At a league meeting in New York on Oct. 18, Irsay made those feelings public when he he told reporters“I believe there is merit in removing him as an owner.”

The commanders responded violently, deeming the comments inappropriate. In a statement, the spokesman insisted that after all the evidence came to light, “Mr. Irsay will conclude that there is no reason for the Snyders to consider selling the franchise. And they won’t.”

About two weeks later came the revelation from Snyder himself that, after a tumultuous 2½ years, they might.

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