Ugliness resurfaces among NFL ownership class, and it isn't all from the Commanders' Daniel Snyder

As memorable quotes go, a veteran NFL team owner telling ESPN, "That's not true. All the owners hate Dan" is an all-timer. It came in response to an assertion in a lengthy ESPN story, where Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder said that the NFL is a mafia and all franchise owners loathe each other.

If you've followed the league for any length of time, it isn't news that Snyder is reviled by his fellow franchise owners, but seeing it put that way was still entertaining. It was a nugget in an incredibly thorough report by Don Van Natta Jr., Seth Wickersham and Tisha Thompson that was published Thursday. It's chock-full of titillating tidbits, from the megalomaniacal Snyder apparently having other team owners and commissioner Roger Goodell watched by private investigators to a 2003 league meeting that saw Snyder, still not 40 years old, insult the Bidwill family in a pitch to get a Super Bowl at FedEx Stadium instead of in Arizona, to former Washington executives claiming Snyder would sometimes bellow, "I'm the f***ing owner, and if you don't do this, I'm going to kill you," when it came to on-field personnel decisions he wanted. (According to the report, this was done half-jokingly. Which also means he was half-serious, but we digress.)

Here's what resonated more than anything else from the report: NFL franchise owners, as a class, are a terrible lot, concerned with nothing except money and power, and damn anyone who is harmed in pursuit of either.

Again, if you've followed the league with a critical eye for any length of time, this isn't news. It covered up the dangers of repeated concussions; ferociously fought to properly compensate former players for the health issues they deal with in retirement that are almost certainly due to playing through traumatic brain injuries; allowed a horrific race-norming practice that minimized the brain trauma suffered by Black players relative to white players; banished a Black player for asking that his fellow Black citizens shouldn't be wantonly killed in the streets by agents of the state; and generally turns a blind eye to any and all mistreatment of women, including in its own league offices.

That's just a short list of recent examples.

This particular passage in the ESPN story lays it all out so starkly and should erase any doubt as to whether these franchise owners have any redeemable qualities or are working for a greater community good:

When asked whether his fellow owners would forgive Snyder for the team's financial woes and the toxic culture scandal if Snyder could build a new stadium, the owner quickly replied, "Yes."

Asked if Snyder is aware of that, the owner said, "Yes."

Thursday's extensive ESPN report on Daniel Snyder's increasingly cornered behavior spoke volumes about the rest of the NFL's team owners, too. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
Thursday's extensive ESPN report on Daniel Snyder's increasingly cornered behavior spoke volumes about the rest of the NFL's team owners, too. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Dozens of former Washington employees have accused Snyder of overseeing a toxic, misogynistic workplace in team offices, and the NFL bungled its investigation of and punishment for it so much that Congress is looking into things.

One former employee who accused Snyder of sexual assault on his private plane in 2009 received a $1.6 million settlement at the time and Snyder has since tried to pay her more for her continued silence, according to the woman's attorney. She flat-out refused.

In a Washington Post report, numerous cheerleaders were taken out of the country for a photoshoot, had their passports confiscated and made to pose nude with ogling, lecherous suite-holders looking on. Moments where the women's private parts may have been exposed as they adjusted between shots were allegedly spliced together into a video, aka the "good bits," for Snyder's lewd consumption.

Whatever was discovered by lead investigator Beth Wilkinson and her team, Goodell sided with Snyder and kept it under wraps, telling Wilkinson to give him only an oral presentation on the findings, not a written one.

The women victimized by the horrible environment have been left twisting in the wind, begging anyone who will listen to help them get justice.

The NFL doesn't care.

Not to be overlooked, ESPN reports that Snyder claims to have "dirt" on several of his fellow team owners and Goodell, and his threat of exposing any or all of them if they try to force him to sell the franchise is why it hasn't yet happened. It's fair to ask: Are they just as grimy as Snyder? What are they afraid of that will get out?

If only even a couple of team owners had the moral clarity and spine of the former employee who turned down another seven-figure payday to protect Snyder, the NFL would have cut ties with this enfant terrible by now.

Snyder's mismanagement of what was once one of the marquee franchises of the league means home games with swaths of empty seats, even after he cut the capacity of the Commanders' crumbling stadium, as well as declining revenues with no uptick on the horizon. And there's also the on-field product that is a laughing stock. He's not pulling his weight as a partner in the NFL team owners club.

Snyder is now considered so toxic that a bipartisan stadium proposal from two of Virginia's highest-ranking state lawmakers was shelved after public outcry over giving public money to a man with his laundry list of alleged transgressions. And yet as that team owner was all too quick to tell ESPN, all will be forgotten if Snyder pulls off a miracle and cons millions in taxpayer dollars out of some sap politicians to get a stadium deal done somewhere in the DMV region in the coming months.

(We say "forgotten instead of "forgiven," because that implies his behavior is cause for concern for any of his fellow team owners and Snyder might actually apologize.)

In one word — "yes" — one NFL franchise owner made crystal clear what some of us have long believed to be true: The men and women who run the league do not care about other human beings, or some greater good, or even most fans, some of whom inexplicably continue to side with them over the players who put their bodies on the line and without whom there is no game.

They do not care about anything except accumulating money and the power that comes with it.

And woe to anyone who stands in the way.

This article contains affiliate links; if you click such a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission.