Daniel Snyder’s demands anger NFL owners, talk of voting him out again


Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and his attorneys have demanded that fellow NFL franchise owners and the league indemnify him for future legal liability and costs if he sells the team, said two people with direct knowledge of the inner workings of the NFL and the attitude of the owners.

Snyder’s demands, including a threat of legal action if the indemnity condition is not met, have angered some owners and renewed discussion about the possibility of holding a vote to remove him from the Commanders’ possession if he doesn’t sell the franchise, the people said, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic and the legal threat.

“He wants compensation if he sells,” said one of those people, adding that the owners consider the claim “ridiculous” and “absurd” and believe Snyder should indemnify the other owners for any legal claims that may arise from his and the actions of the team.

The owners would “definitely” move toward a vote to remove Snyder from his team’s ownership if he doesn’t sell the franchise, that person said. Such a vote would require the support of at least three quarters of the owners. The other person who confirmed Snyder’s demands added that the dispute “could get messy”.

The commanders declined to comment Monday night.

Tilman Fertitta is involved in bidding for the Commanders

Snyder is also trying to get the NFL to keep confidential the findings of the ongoing investigation being conducted by attorney Mary Jo White, one of the people with knowledge of the situation said. The NFL has said the findings of White’s investigation will be made public. It is the competition’s second investigation into the team’s and Snyder’s workplace.

The NFL declined to comment.

According to one of the people with knowledge of the situation, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is trying to negotiate a peace deal whereby Snyder would sell the Commanders and leave the NFL without further bitterness. Jones has long been considered Snyder’s closest ally among his co-owners. The Cowboys did not respond to a request for Jones to comment.

The rise in tensions between Snyder and the league and other owners comes when Snyder receives offers for his team. The potential buyers are Josh Harris, owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils; Tilman Fertitta, owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets; and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, owner of The Washington Post.

Harris visited the commanders’ training facility in Ashburn, two people familiar with the situation said this month. Fertitta has made a bid for the team believed to be just over $5.5 billion and is believed to have visited the training facility, two people with knowledge of the matter said Saturday. Bezos has hired a New York investment firm, Allen & Company, to evaluate a possible offer, two people familiar with the deliberations said last week.

Snyder is closing Bezos in the sale process so far, a person familiar with the situation said, confirming reports from the New York Post and the Athletic. Snyder has rejected “any effort” by Bezos to go ahead with the purchase of the team, according to that individual, who said Snyder is acting “out of spite” over Bezos’ ownership of The Post. It’s not clear whether Snyder’s approach is a final decision or a stance as part of a negotiating strategy.

Commanders said in November that Snyder and wife Tanya, the team’s co-CEO, had hired Bank of America Securities to “consider possible transactions” for the franchise. The team has not said whether the Snyders want to sell part or all of the franchise, valued by Forbes at an estimated $5.6 billion. The Denver Broncos were sold last year for $4.65 billion, the record price for an NFL club.

Jeff Bezos hires investment firm to consider bid for Commanders

According to one of the people in the know, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was angry about Daniel Snyder’s damages suit. The league and owners are willing to fight Snyder legally if necessary, that person said, but would rather see Jones convince Snyder to accept a record fee for his team and leave the league without a confrontation in court. The owners believe that any vote they could cast to remove Snyder would survive a legal challenge, according to that individual.

“It only seems to get worse. … If you want to sue, fine,” said that person. “If you want to fight, we will fight. … [But] hopefully in the long run, just talking to him will help him realize that this is not the way to go.

When asked what Snyder and his lawyers want to be compensated for, the person said, “Literally anything.”

A third person with knowledge of the owners’ views said Snyder’s request was objectionable but not surprising. Snyder “has a better chance” of keeping the findings of White’s investigation out of the public eye than getting the owners to agree to indemnify him, that person said, adding that neither should happen.

In March 2021, NFL owners approved a waiver allowing Snyder to borrow $450 million above the league’s debt ceiling so he could resolve a conflict with his three co-owners by purchasing their joint 40 percent interest. Given that accommodation — which at least one owner now regrets, according to a person with knowledge of the matter — owners probably won’t bow to Snyder’s current demand for terms on the sale of the franchise.

The owners recently resolved their internal dispute over another compensation issue. They voted unanimously in October to ratify a proposal on how to split the 2021 payment of the $790 million NFL settlement with St. Louis to settle the city’s lawsuit over the Rams’ move to Los Angeles in to be resolved in 2016. Rams owner Stan Kroenke apparently agreed to pay for the settlement and legal fees, minus the roughly $7.5 million per team the league withheld from the other 31 franchises to contribute to the total.

A vote to remove an owner would be unprecedented. Jerry Richardson sold the Carolina Panthers to David Tepper in 2018 following an NFL investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct. That investigation, also conducted by White, concluded that there was no information to discredit the claims against Richardson. The NFL fined Richardson $2.75 million.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said in October that he and co-owners should seriously consider voting to remove Snyder from ownership, which would require the approval of at least three-quarters of the owners. Multiple owners told The Post in September that they thought serious consideration would be given to trying to oust Snyder from the ownership ranks, either by convincing him to sell or by voting to remove him.

White’s investigation was launched in February 2022 after Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and marketing manager for the team, said at a congressional roundtable that Snyder harassed her at a team dinner, placed his hand on her thigh, and pushed her toward his limousine. Snyder denied the allegations, calling the allegations directly against him “outright lies”.

The Post reported in 2020 that in 2009 the team paid a former employee $1.6 million as part of a confidential settlement after the woman accused Snyder of sexual misconduct. Snyder denied the woman’s allegations, and a team investigation accused her of fabricating her claims as part of an extortion attempt. But Snyder and the team eventually agreed to pay her a seven-figure sum as part of a settlement in which she agreed not to press charges or go public with her allegations.

Following an earlier investigation into the team’s workplace by attorney Beth Wilkinson, the NFL announced in July 2021 that the team had been fined $10 million and that Tanya Snyder would assume responsibility for the franchise’s day-to-day operations indefinitely. would take time.

The team and Daniel Snyder are also under investigation by federal authorities in the Eastern District of Virginia. The federal investigation spans multiple agencies and is focused on allegations of financial impropriety involving the team, according to people familiar with the situation.

The allegations of financial improprieties originally surfaced as part of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Democrat-led investigation into the team’s workplace. The commanders have denied committing any financial misconduct.

The committee’s Democratic leaders wrote in a 20-page letter in April that the commanders and Snyder “may have been involved in a troubling, long-running, and possibly illegal pattern of financial conduct” that reportedly withheld as much as $5 million in repayables. . deposits from season ticket holders and also hidden money that should be shared among NFL owners. The team has denied committing financial irregularities at any point and has characterized the commission’s actions as politically motivated.

The office of Karl A. Racine (D), then the D.C. Attorney General, filed a consumer protection lawsuit in November against the Commanders, Snyder, the NFL and Goodell, accusing them of conspiracy to deceive and defraud customers. misleading about an investigation into the team’s workplace in order to maintain its fan base in the pursuit of revenue. The team and the NFL denied the allegations, and lawyers for the team said the lawsuit “repeats a lot of innuendo, half-truths and lies”.

Racine’s office filed a second lawsuit against the commanders that month regarding refundable deposits allegedly not refunded by the team to Washington season ticket holders. The commanders said an assessment by an outside law firm found “no evidence that the team deliberately withheld security deposits that should have been returned to clients or that the team improperly converted unclaimed deposits into revenue.” Racine has since been succeeded by Brian L. Schwalb (D) as Attorney General.

Then-Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) announced in November that his office’s consumer protection department had settled with the commanders over allegations that the team withheld bail from cardholders. The team paid a $250,000 fine under a plea agreement in which it did not admit the allegations. The settlement called for the commanders to return any security deposits that were not returned to consumers.

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