If you’ve been wondering why Daniel Snyder is still team owner of the Washington Commanders after years of scandal, allegations and investigations by everyone from Congress to the NFL, a new ESPN report seems to have the answer:
Mutually assured destruction.
Report: Snyder like a 'mad dog cornered' as NFL conspires to oust him
ESPN's Don Van Natta Jr., Seth Wickersham and Tisha Thompson reported that Snyder told an associate he has enough secrets to "blow up" several NFL team owners, as well as the league office and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, a notion reiterated in the story by former Commanders executives and other anonymous sources.
Tensions among league franchise owners could keep Snyder in charge, or at least allow him to bring the house down with him.
"The NFL is a mafia," (Snyder) recently told an associate. "All the owners hate each other."
"That's not true," one veteran owner says. "All the owners hate Dan."
The NFL has its fall league meetings in New York on Tuesday, though a league source told the Associated Press there are currently no plans to vote on removing him from ownership. ESPN reported that Snyder will fight to keep the team even if club owners reach the 24-vote threshold to vote him out. "They can't f*** with me," Snyder said privately, according to the story.
Word has reportedly spread across the NFL that Snyder has hired private investigators to gather information about anyone who could be a threat. According to the report, a Commanders spokesperson and outside lawyers denied that Snyder has hired or authorized private investigators to track anyone.
The Commanders issued a response to the story Thursday, per The Athletic's Ben Standig:
Goodell has reportedly been hesitant to take action against Snyder, preferring to focus on the "integrity of the game" and let team owners sort out themselves when it comes to business practice. Yet, he warned team owners they would be fined “millions of dollars” for going on record to discuss league business.
Now franchise owners, aware of Snyder's potentially desperate efforts to protect himself, have reportedly started thinking of more creative ways to push him out, including refusing to let Snyder borrow money for a “desperately needed” new stadium.
Is Daniel Snyder losing Jerry Jones, his biggest ally?
According to the report, Snyder has visited club owners across the league to shore up support. One in particular stands out.
Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys team owner and a longstanding mentor of Snyder, reportedly told confidants recently that he "might not be able" to protect Snyder any longer after being asked “personally and repeatedly” to have his back.
The report mentions that Jones has been careful not to defend Snyder's character, but instead praises how hard Snyder is working to "right the ship" and trying to build a new stadium.
It doesn’t help that Snyder has reportedly also "badmouthed" Jones, telling another team owner recently, "He's only out to get in your pocket. He'll sell you down the river. You can't trust him."
A source in the report is also quoted as saying, "Snyder's already lost Jerry."
Snyder seems to be willing to bring Jones down as well. He is reported to have told a source that “Jerry has his own problems.” The league owners are reportedly not fazed by Jones’ alleged issues, which include a reported $2.4 million settlement with four cheerleaders over voyeurism allegations as well as a lawsuit (that was ultimately dropped) by a 25-year-old woman claiming Jones is her father.
Despite sexual misconduct being a key focus in Snyder's alleged transgressions, according to the ESPN report, it’s Snyder’s “poor financial showing” the other team owners can’t ignore. Earlier this year, it was reported that Congress' House Oversight Committee received information alleging the Commanders have been hiding ticket revenue from other NFL teams.
'Tipping point' for Snyder’s removal?
The NFL has still not publicly disclosed the findings of an investigation into the Commanders' allegedly toxic workplace culture by Beth Wilkinson, a veteran Washington, D.C., lawyer hired in the summer of 2020.
However, some league executives saw the findings targeting Snyder, including the details regarding an alleged 2009 $1.6 million settlement with a former female employee who accused Snyder of sexually assaulting her on his private plane.
Despite Snyder’s lawyers reportedly attempting to silence her, the woman has spoken to Wilkinson and lawyer Mary Jo White, who's conducting a new inquiry of Snyder for the NFL.
According to the report, a former Commanders executive says if the details of that incident are ever made public, it could be a "tipping point" for Snyder's removal.
That said, the story cites other ownership sources who are worried the spotlight could be turned to their own franchises if the findings of the new report are released.
"There are 31 guys who are petrified" of Snyder, says a sports executive and longtime friend of Goodell. "If you don't care about the fraternity, it's scary."