NFL approves $6.05B sale of Commanders, fines Dan Snyder $60M after releasing investigation report

After months of grinding on the details, the sale of the Washington Commanders is officially complete. And with it, lightning-rod team owner Dan Snyder is no longer a member of the league’s ownership class.

Snyder’s fellow NFL franchise owners voted unanimously to approve the $6.05 billion sale on Thursday, the league announced, transferring the team into the hands of a group led by private equity investor Josh Harris. The move came swiftly after the league’s finance committee gave club owners a green light earlier in the week, recommending a transaction that could ultimately pave the way for future “group collectives” purchasing NFL teams, rather than the tradition model of one owner holding the majority of equity in a franchise.

"Congratulations to Josh Harris and his impressive group of partners," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "Josh will be a great addition to the NFL. He has a remarkable record in business, sports and in his communities. The diverse group that Josh has put together is outstanding for its business acumen and strong Washington ties and we welcome them to the NFL as well.

"I met Josh several years ago, prior to his acquisition of an interest in the Steelers and have been fortunate to get to know him better over the past few months. I know he has a commitment to winning on the field, but also to running an organization that everyone will be proud of — and to making positive contributions in the community."

The NFL has approved the sale of the Washington Commanders, ending Dan Snyder's time as a team owner. (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
The NFL has approved the sale of the Washington Commanders, ending Dan Snyder's time as a team owner. (Tim Heitman/USA Today)

The sale sets a world record in pricing for a sports team, eclipsing the $5.3 billion purchase of English Premier League club Chelsea in 2022 by a group led by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly. It also represents a significant leap forward for NFL franchise prices, significantly outpacing the $4.65 billion purchase of the Denver Broncos by the Walton-Penner group last year.

Aside from the weighty financial implications of the sale for the NFL, it also represents a fresh start for a franchise and fan base that went through significant upheaval during Snyder’s tenure. Despite entering the league’s ownership ranks in 1999 with big expectations following his $800 million purchase of the Washington franchise, Snyder’s reign became mired in a vast array of failure. From decades of poor performance on the field to the long-running controversy over the team’s former nickname — not to mention an inability to secure a new stadium — Snyder was largely seen across the league as a man running a once-proud cornerstone franchise into the ground.

NFL fines Dan Snyder $60 million after investigation

None of those lowlights cast a shadow as troubling as the numerous workplace complaints and litany of investigations into Snyder and his franchise over the past decade, all of which culminated in an NFL ownership tide that prodded Thursday’s sale.

The league released its findings from the sexual and financial misconduct investigation into the franchise by Mary Jo White just minutes after announcing the sale was approved. The investigation sustained former employee Tiffani Johnston's allegation of sexual harassment by Snyder and allegations of underreporting of NFL revenues. As a result, the NFL said in its report, fined Snyder $60 million.

"The conduct substantiated in Ms. White's findings has no place in the NFL," Goodell said in a statement. "We strive for workplaces that are safe, respectful and professional. What Ms. Johnston experienced is inappropriate and contrary to the NFL's values."

In a statement, Johnston's attorneys who also represented over 40 Commanders employees, said the accusers can "claim total vindication."

Even with some finality arriving this week, the league still has former NFL head coach Jon Gruden’s pending lawsuit against the league over controversial leaked emails.