Daniel Snyder bought the then-Washington Redskins in May, 1999, and it seems that he’s been embroiled in controversy ever since. The franchise has made the playoffs just six times under Snyder’s ownership, he’s frequently been over-involved in player moves, he waited far too long and far too defiantly to change the team’s racist nickname (put forth by original owner George Preston Marshall, one of the most racist individuals in pro football history), and he’s been a pointman in the franchise’s toxic workplace, rife with sexual harassment.
What may have pushed Snyder’s fellow owners over the edge is a recent finding from the House Oversight Committee in which it was speculated that Snyder might have withheld or concealed ticket revenue and related funds as part of “a troubling, long-running, and potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct.” Snyder was said to have withheld up to $5 million in refundable ticket deposits owed to fans and corporations.
According to USA Today’s Jarrett Bell, there is increasing frustration among those other owners regarding Snyder — one owner told Bell under the condition of anonymity that “we are counting votes.”
“If that happened, I think that’s the nail in the coffin,” one owner told Bell about the alleged financial improprieties.
There is also a lot of talk about the light punishment Snyder got from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the sexual harassment allegations — Goodell did not demand a written report of the investigation into Washington’s workplace, he fined Snyder $10 million without suspending him, and there was a tacit agreement between Snyder’s franchise and the NFL that one party could not reveal any aspects of the investigation without the express permission of the other.
Now, and especially with the specter of financial improprieties to consider, it’s possible that the required 24 votes to boot Snyder out of NFL ownership could actually happen.
“There’s a feeling, a sense of disappointment amongst the owners that I talk to – I don’t talk to them all, but owners who come to the meetings and are active – that he wasn’t suspended,” one owner told Bell. “Disappointment that Roger did not act stronger.”
It’s exceedingly rare for an NFL owner to be forced to give up his franchise. Bell points out that in 1997, San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo was forced to turn over his stake in the 49ers to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York, after he pleaded guilty to failing to report a felony that involved him paying former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards $400,000 for a riverboat gambling casino license.
And Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson was forced to sell after a December, 2017 report from L. Jon Wertheim and Viv Bernstein of Sports Illustrated revealed that Richardson had settled several complaints of inappropriate behavior. Per the report, Richardson would ask his female employees to turn around so that he could admire their backsides and make comments such as: “Show me how you wiggle to get those jeans up. I bet you had to lay down on your bed to fit into those jeans. Did you step into those jeans or did you have to jump into them?”
At least four employees reached financial settlements with Richardson in exchange for their vows of silence.
Given that Snyder’s transgressions have been far broader and far worse, one wonders why he’s been given the kid-glove treatment. The idea that Snyder might fight back, and that Snyder may know where a lot of metaphorical bodies are buried, certainly comes into the picture.
During the aforementioned workplace investigation, it was revealed that former ESPN broadcaster and longtime head coach Jon Gruden sent racist, misogynist, and homophobic e-mails to former Redskins president Bruce Allen. Gruden was forced to resign.
If we’re to the point where enough other owners are prepared to throw caution aside and boot Snyder out of the league, things could get very interesting very quickly. Especially with the next owner’s meetings starting this week.