Daniel Snyder’s demands infuriate NFL owners, renew talk of voting him out


Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and his lawyers have demanded that other NFL franchise owners and the league indemnify him against future legal liability and costs if he sells his team, two people with direct knowledge of the NFL’s inner workings and owners’ attitudes said.

Snyder’s demands, which include a threat to sue if the indemnification condition is not met, have angered some owners and renewed discussion of the possibility of taking a vote to remove him from ownership of the Commanders if he does not sell the franchise, according to Snyder. people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject and the legal threat.

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

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

The commanders declined to comment Monday night.

Tilman Fertitta is involved in bidding for the commanders

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

The NFL declined to comment.

According to one of the people with knowledge of the situation, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is trying to broker a peace deal in which Snyder would sell the Commanders and leave the NFL without further atrocity. 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 increase in tension between Snyder and the league and other owners comes as Snyder entertains offers for his team. The potential buyers include 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, who owns The Washington Post.

Harris has 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 practice facility, two people with knowledge of the matter said Saturday. Bezos has hired a New York investment firm, Allen & Company, to evaluate a possible bid, two people familiar with the discussions said last week.

Snyder is “shutting out” Bezos in the sales process to this point, a person familiar with the situation said, confirming reports by the New York Post and the Athletic. Snyder has “rejected all efforts” by Bezos to move toward buying the team, according to the person, who said Snyder is acting “out of spite” because of Bezos’ ownership of The Post. It is not clear whether Snyder’s approach represents a final decision or stance as part of a negotiating strategy.

The Commanders said in November that Snyder and his wife Tanya, the team’s co-CEO, had hired Bank of America Securities to evaluate potential transactions for the franchise. The team has not said whether Snyders wants to sell part or all of the franchise, which is 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 franchise.

Jeff Bezos hires an investment firm to evaluate bids for Commanders

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was angered by Daniel Snyder’s demand for compensation, according to one of the people with knowledge of the matter. The league and owners are prepared to fight Snyder legally if necessary, that person said, but would prefer that Jones convince Snyder to accept a record price for his team and leave the league without a confrontation in court. The owners believe any vote they had to take to remove Snyder would survive a legal challenge, according to that person.

“It just seems to be getting worse. … If you want to sue, fine,” the person said. “If you want to fight, we will fight. … (But) hopefully in the long run, just by talking to him, he will realize that this is not the way to go.”

Asked what Snyder and his lawyers are seeking to be indemnified against, the person said, “Literally everything.”

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 be allowed to happen.

In March 2021, NFL owners approved a waiver that allowed Snyder to borrow $450 million above the league’s debt ceiling, allowing him to resolve a conflict with his three co-owners by purchasing their combined 40 percent stake. Given that accommodation — which at least one owner now regrets, according to a person with knowledge of the matter — the owners likely won’t bow to Snyder’s current demands for terms to sell the franchise.

The owners recently settled their internal dispute over another compensation issue. They voted unanimously in October to ratify a proposal on how to split payment of the NFL’s $790 million settlement with St. Louis in 2021 to resolve the city’s lawsuit over the Rams’ move to Los Angeles in 2016. Rams owner Stan Kroenke apparently went helping to pay for the settlement and legal fees, minus the roughly $7.5 million per team that the league had up to that point 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. This investigation, also conducted by White, concluded that there was no information to discredit the allegations 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. Several owners told The Post in September that they believed serious consideration would be given to trying to remove Snyder from ownership, 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, told a congressional panel that Snyder harassed her at a team dinner, put his hand on her thigh and pushed her against his limo. Snyder denied the allegations, calling the accusations made against him “pure lies.”

The Post reported in 2020 that the team paid a former employee $1.6 million as part of a confidential settlement in 2009 after the woman accused Snyder of sexual misconduct. Snyder denied the woman’s allegations, and a team investigation accused her of fabricating her allegations 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 sue 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 for an unspecified period of time.

The team and Daniel Snyder are also being investigated by federal authorities in the Eastern District of Virginia. The federal probe includes multiple agencies and is focused on allegations of financial improprieties involving the team, according to people familiar with the situation.

The allegations of financial improprieties originally emerged as part of the Democratic-led investigation into the team’s workplace by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The commanders have denied having committed any financial wrongdoing.

Democratic leaders of the committee wrote in a 20-page letter in April that the commanders and Snyder “may have engaged in a disturbing, long-standing and potentially illegal pattern of financial conduct” that allegedly involved withholding as much as $5 million in refundable deposits from season ticket holders and also hide money that was supposed to be shared between NFL owners. The team has denied having committed financial improprieties at all times and has characterized the committee’s actions as politically motivated.

The office of Karl A. Racine, then the Democratic attorney general of D.C., filed a consumer protection lawsuit in November against the Commanders, Snyder, the NFL and Goodell, accusing them of colluding to deceive and mislead customers about an investigation into the team’s workplace. to maintain the fan base in pursuit of income. The team and the NFL denied the allegations, and lawyers for the team said the lawsuit “repeated numerous innuendos, half-truths and lies.”

Racine’s office filed another lawsuit that month against the Chiefs regarding refundable deposits that were allegedly not returned by the team to season ticket holders from the district. The commanders said a review by an outside law firm “found no evidence that the team intentionally withheld security deposits that should have been returned to customers, or that the team improperly converted any unclaimed deposits into revenue.” Racine has since been succeeded by Brian L. Schwalb (D) as Washington’s attorney general.

Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) announced in November that his office’s consumer protection division reached a settlement with the commanders over allegations that the team withheld security deposits from ticket holders. The team paid a civil penalty of $250,000 in a settlement in which they did not admit to the charges. The settlement required the commanders to refund all security deposits that had not yet been returned to consumers.

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