“Dan and Tanya Snyder and the Washington Commander announced today that they have hired Bank of America Securities to consider a potential transaction,” the Commander said in a statement. “The Snyder family remains committed to providing the best product for the team, all employees and countless fans, and continues to work hard to set the gold standard for the NFL workplace.”
A person familiar with NFL franchise deals said Daniel Snyder has been interested in trying to sell a minority stake in the team of late, but doesn’t know if that’s still his intention. Two other people familiar with the inner workings of the NFL said they had no idea what Snyder planned to do.
“We are exploring all options,” the commander’s spokesman said.
Snyder and family own the entire franchise. Snyder led a group of investors that bought the team and its stadium from the Jack Kent Cook estate for $800 million in 1999. Forbes estimated in August that the commanders were worth $5.6 billion.
“Any potential trade must be submitted to the NFL Finance Committee for review and requires a three-quarter full membership (24 of 32 teams),” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement Wednesday. ) to vote yes.”
Such approvals are required to sell a minority stake or an entire team. The NFL declined to comment further on future deals.
Snyder and the commanders were under investigation by the NFL, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the attorneys general in Washington, D.C. and Virginia at the time of Wednesday’s announcement.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Ilsey has said in recent weeks that he and other NFL team owners should seriously consider voting to remove Snyder from the commander’s ownership.
“I think we’re going to have more and more discussions about this,” Ilsay told reporters at an owners’ meeting in New York last month. “It’s a difficult situation. I think it’s good to have him removed as owner [Commanders]. I think that’s something we have to review. We have to look at all the evidence, and we have to move forward thoroughly. But I think it’s something that has to be seriously considered. “
That day, a spokesperson for the Commander issued the following statement: “Very inappropriate, but not surprising, Mr. Irsay, who has chosen to make a public statement based on lies in the media. Unfortunately, Mr. Irsay has decided to make his statement public today. “While the investigation is ongoing, the team has not yet had the opportunity to formally respond to the allegations. The commander has made significant progress over the past two years. We are confident that when he has the opportunity to see actual evidence in this case, Mr. Irsay will conclude that there is no reason for the Snyders to consider selling the franchise. They will not.”
Irsay expanded on his comments in a phone interview on Friday: “I’m not sure how the report is going to come out. But what has come out is very disturbing and I disagree with the process. I probably disagree that we didn’t discuss anything more serious. things like his being disowned. As I said, it’s not something I say we should do. I say it’s something that has to be taken seriously.”
That would require a vote of at least three-quarters of the owners to remove Snyder from ownership. Multiple owners told The Washington Post in September that they thought they might seriously consider trying to push Snyder out of league ownership, either by persuading him to sell his franchise or by voting to remove him.
“He needs to sell,” one of the owners said at the time. “Some of us need to go to him and tell him he needs to sell.”
It was unclear on Wednesday whether any owners had urged Snyder to sell.
“I think there will be a movement,” the same owner said in September. “We need to get 24 votes.”
The NFL’s current investigation is being conducted by attorney Mary Jo White.
“Mary Jo White is continuing her review,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “We don’t have an update on the timetable.”
The league launched its investigation into White after Snyder harassed her at a team dinner, putting his hand on her lap and pressing her into his limo, it said at a congressional roundtable in February. Snyder has denied the allegations, calling them “outright lies.”
In June, The Washington Post reported details of an employee’s claim that Snyder sexually assaulted her on a private jet in April 2009. Later that year, the team agreed to a nondisclosure settlement to pay the fired employees $1.6 million. In a 2020 court filing, Snyder called the woman’s claims “baseless.”
In April, the House committee detailed allegations of financial misconduct by Snyder and his team in a letter to the FTC. The district’s Democratic Attorney General Karl A. Racine and Virginia’s Republican Attorney General Jason S. Miyares announced they would investigate. The team denies any financial wrongdoing.
A person familiar with the investigation said last month that Racine’s office was close to completing its investigation and planned to take further action on the case.
“Today’s news that Dan and Tanya Snyder are exploring a sale of the Washington Commanders is a great development for the team, its former and current employees, and its many fans,” said a representative of more than 40 former Team employees’ attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz said in a statement Wednesday. “We’re going to have to see how this unfolds, but it could obviously be a big step toward healing and ending for the many brave men and women who have come forward.”
The NFL did not say when White’s investigation was completed. The league said White’s report will be released publicly, unlike previous findings of an investigation into the team’s workplace by attorney Beth Wilkinson.
The House committee is expected to release its findings in the coming weeks. Daniel Snyder participated in sworn testimony to the committee remotely in July for more than 10 hours. In September, former team president Bruce Allen testified remotely for about 10 hours under a subpoena.
In March, Snyder bought his three limited partners — Dwight Schall, Fred Smith and Robert Rothman — who together owned about 40 percent of the franchise, for $875 million. The deal requires his 31 peer owners to grant him forgiveness to take on an additional $450 million in debt.
The Washington Post reported in November 2020 that Snyder’s LPs received a $900 million offer from Clearlake Capital’s billionaire co-founders Behdad Eghbali and José Feliciano and Feliciano’s wife Kwanza Jones. The deal was blocked because Snyder tried to exercise his right of first refusal by matching offers for Smith and Rothman instead of Schal, people familiar with the matter said at the time. This has led to controversy over whether Snyder has the right to exercise those rights in a selective manner.
Eghbali and Feliciano, reportedly among the bidders for the Denver Broncos, were sold by the Pat Bowlen Trust for $4.65 million in June to a group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton. This is the highest amount ever paid for an NFL franchise. The owners approved Walton’s purchase in August.
The team’s announcement on Wednesday also came as public financing talks to build a potential new stadium for the commanders stalled. The state lawmaker leading the lure of commanders to Virginia said in June that those attempts had ceased. State Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said at the time: “There’s a lot going on there, and a lot of people are saying, ‘Saslau, this thing needs to wait.'”
Prior to Wednesday, the commanders had said Snyder would not sell the team. A team spokesperson said after Irsay’s initial public comments: “We believe that when he has the opportunity to see the actual evidence in this case, Mr. Irsay will conclude that there is no reason for the Snyders to consider selling the franchise. They will not .”
In July 2021, the NFL announced that according to Wilkinson’s investigation, the team was fined $10 million and Tanya Snyder would oversee the team’s day-to-day operations for an unspecified period.