There’s plenty of smoke surrounding Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder. Even in the absence of the confirmed existence of an actual fire, the smoke is getting the attention of his partners.
As reported by Jarrett Bell of USA Today, one NFL owner said that the group is “counting votes” as to Snyder.
It would take 24 votes to get rid of him. Of course, that would be just the beginning, not the end. Snyder would surely fight hard to not be forced to sell his business. Although the various members of Club Oligarch accept the rules of life in the league, the antitrust violation that would come from 24 or more business owners forcing another business owner to sell his or her business is hiding in plain sight.
Still, the rest of the owners are moving toward their breaking point with Snyder.
This isn’t new. We’ve reported on multiple occasions that Snyder is on thin ice. During Super Bowl week, we confirmed past reporting from 106.7 The Fan in D.C. that, if the league had asked attorney Beth Wilkinson for a written recommendation at the conclusion of her 10-month investigation into chronic workplace misconduct in Washington, she would have recommended that Snyder be forced to sell.
The league retained Mary Jo White, not Wilkinson, to investigate more recent claims of misconduct made against Snyder by former Washington employee Tiffani Johnston. We reported on the day of Super Bowl LVI that, “As one ownership-level source recently put it, the Johnston allegations could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for the league, prompting Snyder’s partners to take steps to push him out.”
That was before the allegations of financial improprieties. Those allegations included a claim from a long-time employee that money was being kept from Snyder’s partners.
As we’ve said plenty of times here and particularly on PFT Live, Snyder has had so many issues and controversies and allegations that, regardless of the merits of each one, at some point the mere existence of the issues and controversies and allegations become enough to justify pushing him out. At least one owner seems to agree with that position.
“There’s growing frustration about the Washington situation and not over one issue, but over how much smoke there is,” an unnamed owner told Bell. “I think everybody’s getting tired of it.”
The people not involved in NFL ownership definitely are tired of it. The question is whether the owners are willing to hold Snyder to a standard that potentially could be applied to them in the future. That’s why he got a pass last year. That’s why the league didn’t ask for a written report from Wilkinson. If a report had been created, Snyder’s ongoing ownership of the team would have become untenable. And every other current and future owner would have had to worry about the possibility that claims made by disgruntled employees could trigger the same outcome for them.
Again, they weren’t protecting Snyder by brushing it all under the rug. They were protecting themselves.
It’s gotten to the point where they possibly aren’t worried about that. Where they perhaps realize that none of them has to be concerned about being held to the same standard, because none of them would ever be involved in so many controversies.
The financial irregularities become the potential icing on the toxic cake. A source told us after the news broke that, if Snyder was indeed picking the pockets of his partners, it would be his “death knell.”
Bell echoes that reality with this quote from an unnamed owner: “If that happened, I think that’s the nail in the coffin.”
Bell also reports that owners “vehemently raised” concerns about the lack of a written report during league meetings in March. Again, Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league, while directly helping Snyder, was doing the rest of them a favor by not creating a road map for regime change. However, that absence of transparency has hounded the league for months, culminating in a Congressional investigation.
The irony continues to be that the release of emails that brought down Raiders coach Jon Gruden triggered a delayed effort to push the NFL and the Commanders or more transparency. Without the Gruden hit job, Congress most likely never would have shown up.
Some think the Gruden emails were released not by the league office but by Snyder. Whoever did it, the universe of suspects is small. If it turns out that Snyder lit the fuse on the bomb that ultimately blows up in his face, he’ll get what he deserves. Then again, there’s a pretty good chance he deserves it anyway.
Throw in the fact that there is evidence that he’s not really serving a suspension when he’s supposed to be, and it’s very difficult to feel bad for Snyder about the direction in which this could be heading.
Fire or not, the smoke continues to billow. In 2007, Goodell beefed up the Personal Conduct Policy to justify punishment of players who simply found themselves in off-field entanglements, regardless of ultimate convictions or guilty pleas. If the league is inclined to apply the same standard to owners (and as made clear in Playmakers it isn’t), Snyder should already be long gone.