Controversial owner offers Washington leaders for sale
They are not the first owners of the club to have been exposed to a scandal. They won’t be the last either. But even at the NFL Show of Shame, Dan and Tanya Snyder took the cake.
The Washington couple who own the American football team leaders have been accused of offensive behaviour, sexual harassment and racism for years.
Dan Snyder is under investigation by several prosecutors and a special committee from Congress and the NFL. Even at an NFL team owners meeting, it was suggested that he be removed from their ranks.
Snyder shrugged his shoulders and sat quietly. Until Wednesday. In a press release, Dan and Tanya Snyder said they have hired a law firm to investigate the leaders’ sale.
In other words, Washington is up for sale. Those who want to buy the organization are expected to bring in at least $5.5 billion, more than ever paid to an NFL club.
The Washington Redskins were once a force in the NFL. In the 1980s in particular, the Redskins were considered one of the strongest teams in the league, having won three Super Bowls (1982, 1988 and 1991).
It all happened with Jack Kent Cook as the owner. The Canadian millionaire who also owns the Los Angeles Lakers basketball club and the Los Angeles Kings ice hockey club. When Kent Cook died in 1997 at the age of 84, Dan Snyder was eager to acquire the stock.
In 1999, Snyder paid $800 million for stock in club and stadium. Because he did so with borrowed money, Snyder sold 35 percent of the stock, only to buy that minority stake back in 2021 for another $800 million.
Within five years, he worked to ensure that the club’s annual revenue increased from 100 million euros to 245 million euros. You might say a lot. But that was at the expense of the team and especially the fans.
Expensive tickets and sewer leaks
Mathematically speaking, there was not much to celebrate under Snyder. The most prominent club of the past has rarely reached the play-offs and has never made it past the first round. Loyal fans have noticed that prices for tickets, parking spaces and refreshments have gone up significantly and are increasingly staying at home.
Snyder even went so far as to sue fans who were unable to pay for their season tickets due to the financial crisis. And although Snyder has been struggling for years with plans for a new stadium, the old stadium is now best known for its outdated maintenance.
For example, in 2021, a sewer pipe burst from the toilet room, forcing many fans to hastily take cover:
However, the proverbial straw was a series of articles in the Washington Post in which more than 40 women shared their stories about sexual harassment and discrimination by Snyder and his immediate colleagues.
A panel headed by attorney Beth Wilkinson concluded in July 2021 after an investigation that sexual misconduct, bullying and harassment were common in Snyder’s circles.
Snyder appoints his wife
It is noteworthy that this investigation assigned the coach of another team. Emails between Washington employees and John Gruden, then the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, turned out to be filled with racist and homophobic insults. Gruden was fired immediately.
and Schneider? He evaded a $10 million fine imposed by the NFL. Snyder promised to leave the day-to-day management to someone else and shortly thereafter appointed his wife, Tanya, as a new manager.
And then there was the question of changing the name. For decades, Native Americans protested against the derogatory name Redskins, but their complaints were not heard until the Black Lives Matter movement rocked the United States.
The pressure on the management of the then Redskins was greatly increased, but the owner Snyder did not want to hear anything about her for a long time. He didn’t move until the major sponsors of the club moved in.
FedEx’s role in this matter was significant. That company – and the stadium’s namesake sponsor – announced that it would stop financially supporting the club if the Redskins term was not abandoned.
“Greetings to the Native Americans!”
In the end, Snyder gave up. Since 2020, the club has lived its life as the Washington Football Club and since this summer the club has become known under the new name Washington Commanders.
But doubts remained that the change was implemented with some reluctance. Last October, Tanya Snyder added fuel to the fire by ending a rally in honor of the club’s longtime champions with a rallying cry, “Hail the Redskins. And let’s beat Green Bay!”
A second NFL investigation into infringing behavior by Snyder and his entourage is still underway, as Snyder was forced to respond to a congressional committee for his conduct and suspected financial fraud.
At the club’s last owners meeting in mid-October, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay called for Snyder to be removed from ownership. This would require the approval of 24 of the 32 owners, and that turned out to be an illusion.
Thus, Snyder remains in place in Washington, much to the chagrin of his fans. “Team sale,” it sounded from the stands last week during the home game against the Green Bay Packers.
A game that ended unexpectedly with a victory, so that the leaders still had a (small) chance to participate in the playoffs. Perhaps this is an additional incentive for wealthy candidates to rid Washington of Snyder.
By the way, Snyder himself does not rule out the possibility of selling only a minority stake. One thing is for sure: his passing will bring relief to many.
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