the worst team owner in the NFL is finally selling. Dan Snyder has agreed in principle to sell the Washington Redskins, er…Washington Football Team, I mean, the Washington Commanders to Josh Harris for $6.05 billion. Did you hear Dr. Evil’s voice in your head when you read $6.05 billion?
Snyder bought the team for $800 million in 1999 and immediately fired 25 employees. The next season, he signed retiring stars Deion Sanders, Jeff George, Bruce Smith, Mark Carrier, and Andre Reed to huge contracts, and most were gone midway through their second season with the team.
He continued with the stupid business decisions and was the first owner to charge for fans to attend practices. Scouts from other teams came to those practices and said after the season that they knew what was coming from Snyder’s team. Snyder once sold rancid peanuts to fans. On the fifth anniversary of 9/11, Snyder sold commemorative caps. He sued season ticket holders. He once banned fans from bringing signs to games. Snyder once hired an offensive play caller whose previous job was calling bingo games. He traded three first-round picks and a second-round pick to draft Robert Griffin III.
Snyder was known for being a jerk. Early in his tenure as owner, he left a gallon of Baskin-Robbins on the desk of a defensive coordinator with a note saying, “This is what I like, not vanilla.”
He went through a lot of coaches. After firing Norv Turner, he hired receivers coach Terry Robiskie who only lasted one season. He fired 8-8 Robiskie to hire Marty Schottenheimer, who was an ESPN analyst at the time (and had once said he could never work for an owner like Snyder), but was still under contract to the Kansas City Chiefs. To Get Schottenheimer, Snyder gave Kansas City two third-round picks. After going 8-8 and winning eight of its final eleven games, Snyder fires Schottenheimer for University of Florida coach Steve Spurrier. Snyder was always dazzled by the big names and gave Spurrier a five-year $25 million contract.
Spurrier spent more time on golf courses than with the team and even his announcement after two seasons came while he was on a golf course. Next, Snyder hired legendary Washington coach, Joe Gibbs, who had taken the team to three Super Bowls in his first stint as coach. Gibbs lasted four seasons before returning to Nascar. He took the team to the playoffs twice in his second stint, winning one game in 2006 which was the last playoff win in the Snyder era. They replaced Gibbs with Jim Zorn, who they chose over Pete Carroll, who went on to take the Seattle Seahawks to two Super Bowls, winning one. Carroll had already won two national championships, back to back. Zorn was hired as offensive coordinator before a head coach was hired, then promoted to head coach within two weeks.
After Zorn’s one season which really surprised nobody, Snyder went through coaches Mike Shanahan, Jay Gruden, Bill Callahan, and Ron Rivera.
When the team was still the “Redskins,” Snyder issued a statement saying, “”We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.” I guess it wasn’t that SIMPLE.
And then things get really bad. In 2018, Washington cheerleaders took a trip to Costa Rica for a photo shoot where they were asked to pose topless and accompany team sponsors to nightclubs. In 2020, The Washington Post reported on the team’s toxic culture and 15 women alleged they were sexually harassed and verbally abused by former team employees. A few months later, 25 more women made the same allegations. And then, the Post reported that Snyder paid a former team employee $1.6 million in 2009 as part of a settlement after she accused him of sexual misconduct while flying on his plane. In 2021, the NFL fined Washington $10 for its toxic workplace culture and Snyder stepped down from day-to-day duties running the team.
In 2021, The Wall Street Journal released emails between Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden (while he was an analyst at ESPN) and former Washington general manager Bruce Allen (while he was still with Washington) that were homophobic, sexist, and racist. Gruden resigned and allegations are made that Snyder is behind the leaked emails in order to take the blame off him for the toxic workplace culture. Congress and the NFL both investigate the Washington Football Team, as it was known at the time.
In 2022, former Washington cheerleader and marketing manager Tiffani Johnston told members of the House Committee for Oversight and Reform that Snyder placed his hand on her leg while at a dinner function and later unsuccessfully tried to force her into his limousine while singing Billy Ocean’s “Get out of my dreams and into my car.” OK, I might have made that last part up. The NFL hires a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate the claims.
Later in 2022, Anheuser-Busch, which has sponsorship deals with 26 teams, and the NFL, end their relationship with the Commanders. Former Washington employee Jason Friedman testifies before the House Oversight Committee alleging financial improprieties, including a claim that Washington withheld ticket revenue that was supposed to be shared with other teams. The committee sends a 20-page letter to the Federal Trade Commission regarding a “potentially unlawful pattern of financial conduct” by the franchise.
The Virginia attorney general’s office informs the Commanders it will investigate the allegations of financial impropriety. The D.C. attorney general also begins an investigation. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell testifies before the House Oversight Committee while Snyder refuses and flies to France.
In June 2022, The House oversight committee releases a 29-page report with new allegations against Snyder. The report concludes that Snyder conducted a “shadow investigation” to try to discredit the media and others who he thought played a role in making accusations against him and the organization. Among the report’s findings: Snyder sent private investigators to the homes of those who accused him to offer them “hush money.” Snyder finally testifies, remotely from out of the country.
In October 2022, ESPN reported that Snyder told people in his inner circle Goodell and other owners can’t “fuck with me” because of information he has on all of them. The report stated that Snyder had collected information on six other owners, including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Later that month, Colts owner Jim Irsay tells reporters at the owners’ meetings: “I believe there’s merit to remove Snyder as owner. Unfortunately, I believe that’s the road we probably need to go down and we just need to finish the investigation, but it’s gravely concerning to me the things that have occurred there over the last 20 years.”
Snyder released a statement that he will “never” sell, but doesn’t make it all caps this time. The very next month, Snyder announces he’s hired Bank of America Securities to consider “potential transactions” for selling the team.
In the same month, the D.C. attorney general files a civil lawsuit against Snyder and the Commanders saying it is for “colluding to deceive residents of the District of Columbia about their investigation into a toxic workplace culture that impacted employees, especially women.” A week later, the AG files a second lawsuit accusing the team of cheating season-ticket holders in the District out of $200,000 in deposit money.
In December, the House Oversight Committee releases a report stating that Snyder “permitted and participated in” creating a toxic workplace culture. the allegations in the report include that Snyder leaked the Gruden/Allen emails.
And yesterday, ESPN reported that Snyder has reached a preliminary nonexclusive agreement to sell the team to Josh Harris, who also co-owns teams in the NBA and NHL, for a record $6.05 billion. The sale would require league approval which could come as early as next month. There are still other potential buyers.
Last month, Dan Snyder’s team won a poll among players in the NFL for being the worst team to play for.
Music note: I listened to Foo Fighters.
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