It took three years for it to happen, but a second NFL owner finally has been linked to a confidential settlement of alleged misconduct that, if it occurred, could trigger significant consequences for the owner. Panthers founder Jerry Richardson promptly sold his team after multiple confidential settlements came to light in 2017. Now, Washington owner Daniel Snyder finds himself the subject of a previously-confidential settlement for alleged sexual misconduct, which reportedly entailed a payment of $1.6 million.
The mere existence of the confidential settlement, which Snyder apparently has acknowledged, requires a full investigation. It also will compel Snyder to waive the confidentiality clause in order to allow the former employee who received the payment to cooperate fully with the investigation.
The threshold question becomes whether the circumstances surrounding the payment fall within the confines of the existing investigation, which was started by the team and commandeered by the league, or whether a separate investigation should be launched. Whatever it is and whoever does it and however it unfolds, the league must look into whether and to what extent Snyder violated the Personal Conduct Policy.
He claims in a declaration filed earlier this week that a “well-respected law firm” investigated the situation and “no evidence of wrongdoing was found.” Snyder contends that an “insurance carrier” decided to settle the case.
The reality is that no insurance company can settle a case without the consent of the insured. If Snyder had wanted to fight it, Snyder could have fought it, up to the limits of his insurance coverage. (Depending on the terms of the policy and the applicable law, Snyder possibly would have become personally responsible for any verdict in excess of $1.6 million.)
Regardless, the insurance company didn’t fork over that much cash to protect Snyder and his family from embarrassment. The insurance industry’s only commodity is cash; they love to take it in, and they are loathe to pay it out. An insurance company will pay $1.6 million voluntarily in settlement only if the insurance company reasonably fears paying a lot more involuntarily after a verdict is entered.
Common sense, then, suggests it’s not simply “hush money,” and that the money was meant to at least partially compensate the former employee for alleged harm suffered. Whatever the truth may be, there’s enough evidence in the public domain to compel the league to delve into the private details in order to determine whether and to what extent discipline should be imposed on Snyder.