The Dan Snyder era has had a dumpster-grade stench from the beginning. But just when it seemed like he’d leave peacefully, his destructive personality kicked back in. Snyder is finally leaning towards selling the team on his own, but not without kicking and screaming.
Reportedly, Dan Snyder barred Amazon founder Jeff Bezos from placing a bid on the Commanders due to the Washington Post’s investigations into his alleged wrongdoings. According to reports, the Washington Commanders’ embattled owner is also seeking indemnification from liability to shield himself from future lawsuits after he sells. Even when everyone gets to win, Dan Snyder finds a way to mutate the Commanders into even bigger losers.
The Bezos pettiness and the requests for indemnification are interconnected through Dan Snyder’s human centipede of sleaziness and malevolence. He has such a disregard for fans that he still wants to extract more blood from the stone by yo-yo-ing the franchise around a little more. Typically, the sale of a franchise is a no-frills process that leaves everyone satisfied. The team owner or ownership group secures the highest bid, increases their net worth, moves onto a new venture, and maybe returns every few years to sit in a suite and receive nostalgic cheers from home crowds every now and then.
When it comes to Snyder, there always seems to be an ulterior motive at play. He’s been under investigation by multiple state attorneys general in the past 12 months, the organization is being sued in civil court by Washington D.C.’s attorney general, and federal prosecutors have examined his financial dealings ever since a former sales VP for the organization testified to Congress that Snyder was aware of separate accounting books in an effort to withhold ticket profits they would otherwise owe the league under its revenue-sharing bylaws (the team refuted that testimony). The Washington Post reported extensively on those accusations, which has apparently led Snyder to do everything in his power to keep its owner, Bezos, out of the bidding process.
Even Snyder’s former minority partners connected their own dots in regard to the extent of Snyder’s alleged malfeasance three years ago. Reportedly, a footnote in the Commanders’ April 2020 financial report revealed a $55 million credit line taken out 16 months prior without their approval. Those revelations also have Snyder sweating bullets. Since then, the mysterious loan has become a prime focus for federal prosecutors in Virginia. On Tuesday, ESPN reported that a federal grand jury issued subpoenas for team finances related to the loan. Counsel for the Commanders and a team spokeswoman declined to comment to ESPN about the $55 million credit line, but added that the team has been cooperating with authorities from the Eastern District of Virginia since last year.
During the period now under federal investigation, Commanders minority partners, who owned a combined 40.5 percent of the franchise, were embroiled in a dispute with Snyder over the sale of their share to outside buyers for $900 million. During confidential arbitration proceedings, those minority owners, who caught wind of the transaction, requested the NFL investigate Snyder’s loan.
Documents reviewed by ESPN show that Snyder’s minority partners examined the team’s finances and concluded that Snyder was using the team’s coffers as his own “personal piggy bank.” A source close to the proceedings even spoke to ESPN investigative reporter Don Van Natta Jr. under the veil of anonymity and excoriated the NFL’s response.
“Three billionaires — not a few whistleblowers — alleged to the NFL arbitrator that their partner had possibly committed bank fraud,” the source said. “This is jail time type of fraud. The NFL owes them as much of a fair shake as it owes Snyder. And the league had no interest in finding out what happened. They buried it and didn’t investigate it and covered it up.”
During the sale, partners alleged that Snyder also blocked the sale of a portion of their shares to steel company magnate Alan Kestenbaum because in the course of due diligence when adding a new limited partner, Snyder’s alleged malfeasance would have been revealed. As usual, the NFL turned a blind eye and refused to investigate and now Snyder seeks immunity from his conduct.
The NFL’s Last Straw?
Snyder is as much of a tinpot dictator as the NFL has ever seen, but messing with the money of his fellow owners and minority partners is where most of them draw the line. To them, alleged financial misconduct that impacts their wallet is infinitely worse than either the toxic work culture Snyder reportedly manifested or the alleged sexual misconduct beginning at the top of the organizational structure. By allegedly refusing to accept Bezos’ prospective $7 billion-dollar bid and facing several investigations related to his alleged financial misconduct, he’s drawn the ire of his peers at last. The allegations leaked to ESPN last October detailing that Snyder purportedly possesses information that would embarrass owners who could decide his fate was the opening salvo. Eventually, though, the rubber has to meet the road.
When Dan Snyder is involved, it rains, it pours. He’s an abscessed tooth to the NFL that’s rotting down to the root. And he’s determined to leave behind a mess in his wake. The time for waiting is over. The NFL has to extract him before he does any more damage, not just to one of its original franchises, but to The Shield. If the owners vote to remove Snyder, the ensuing battle could wind up as a lengthy legal struggle, but it couldn’t be any worse than this.