Josh Harris bid for Commanders could require skirting of debt rules

NFL Washington Commanders announce the signing of veteran QB Carson Wentz
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For the NFL, rules are rules. Unless the rules keep the NFL from doing what the NFL wants to do.

When it comes to the effort to close the door on the Dan Snyder era and move on to someone/anyone else (specifically, Josh Harris), the rules are made to be slightly disregarded.

As explained by Daniel Kaplan of, the league might have to ignore its own debt rules in order to approve the Harris bid. The move would allow more debt than currently is permitted in order to approve the Harris effort to buy out Snyder’s equity in the team.

Currently, the controlling owner of a team can borrow up to $1.1 billion, with the franchise as the collateral. Harris plans to add additional debt secured against other sports teams owned by Harris, including the Philadelphia 76ers, the New Jersey Devils, and a portion of Crystal Palace FC of the Premier League.

The league has in the past allowed minority partners to secure debt with their own personal businesses. It happened, as Kaplan notes, when Snyder bought the Commanders in 1999.

The complication flows from the simple reality that there aren’t enough people who can raise the cash necessary to buy an NFL team, as the franchise values keep going up and up and up. With Jeff Bezos (who could easily pay the whole price today) not in the mix, exceptions may have to be made to push the sale through.

In this case, the owners would likely approve any deviation necessary to close the door on Dan Snyder, up to and including Harris paying for the team in change.

17 responses to “Josh Harris bid for Commanders could require skirting of debt rules

  1. Of course they will bend the rules. Whatever makes them more money or less headaches.

  2. They rule is not relevant going forward…the price tags are too high now

  3. Bezos could buy out all the owners combined no problem Lol.
    Not sure if he submitted a bid for Washington but if he did they should have taken it.

  4. Union should be all over this and get them to “bend” the guaranteed contract funding rule

  5. The NFL went around their relocation rules when they allowed Kroenke to move the Rams from St. Louis to LA. The NFL will do whatever they want to do.

    Most if not all of the owners want Dan Snyder gone. No doubt that they will make it easy for Josh Harris to become the next owner of the Commanders.

  6. NFL rules are just blurry guidelines that come in and out of focus depending on what the NFL needs them to be to keep the dollars flowing.

  7. hmmm….Snyder had to get permission to exceed the debt rules to buy out his former partners. Undeterred, he also took out loans agains the business without involving his ‘partners.’

    Nothing to see here! Move along.

  8. Frank McCourt used his debt to buy the Dodgers, that worked out well for everyone too…

  9. This is going to happen more and more as team prices rise. Bezos name keeps getting brought up he’s an outlier. Comments that Harris is “broke” may sound nice online but the reality is the entire group he’s put together is probably worth north of 30 billion. Well see what happens but my prediction is snarky comments aside NFL will revise their rules anyway to take into account rising value of teams and need to widen the number of potential owners, including women and minorities who are effectively shut out due to current financial rules.

  10. These are self imposed “rules” so of course they can be broken, ignored, or changed at any time. NFL is just another company; they don’t need permission yet thats how these articles are framed. 😂 If you think the NFL makes it up as it goes then the company that I work for is saying “hold my beer”.

  11. Bezos wanted to see the deal package but he had no interest in bidding for the team. He is waiting until next year when the Seahawks go on the market.

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