Washington football fans will benefit the most from the sale of the Commanders since they will soon no longer be stuck with the NFL’s worst owner. But Snyder will also earn handsomely from the sale of his franchise before he is booted out.
In 1999, Dan Snyder purchased the Washington Redskins, one of the oldest, most popular, and (at the time) most successful clubs in the National Football League. Over the following 24 years, he drove the team into the ground by interfering with the on-field product, actively alienating local fans and media, taking a cheapskate approach to management, and presiding over a string of high-profile scandals off the field. He was a terrible businessman, and he sucked at the business of football in particular. Twenty years before Snyder took over, Washington won three Super Bowls; in Snyder’s 24 years as head coach, the team won just two postseason games.
Snyder will collect $6 billion as compensation.
The Josh Harris group has reached a preliminary agreement to buy the Commanders from Daniel Snyder for $6.05 billion, per sources. It is not exclusive, the deal is not signed, and the group led by Steve Apostolopoulos still is involved in the process.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 13, 2023
On Thursday, it was reported by many publications that Snyder had reached a deal to sell the Washington Commanders to Josh Harris, who is also a part owner of NBA, NHL, and Premier League clubs. Harris had also considered buying the Broncos last year and has a portion of the Steelers (which he would have to sell if he were to acquire the Commanders). In August, a record $4.65 billion was paid for a professional sports franchise in the United States when the Denver franchise was sold. Despite Snyder’s missteps and the need for a new stadium, the value of the Washington franchise has increased by 30 percent, according to reports.
Snyder’s litany of missteps is too vast to fit into a single piece. Just a few lowlights: He bankrupted Six Flags, made fans pay to attend training camp, and allowed his stadium to deteriorate in over 800 different ways because he was too cheap to fix them, all while thinking it was a good idea to trade for Carson Wentz and suing a decades-long fan who tried to back out of a ticket renewal agreement. The Commanders received a F in four of eight categories in the most recent player poll conducted by the NFL Players Association. Importantly, both the House of Representatives and the National Football League have looked into allegations of sexual harassment and other misbehavior by Snyder.
Everyone is relieved to hear that Snyder has decided to sell the franchise. It’s wonderful news for Washington supporters, who have waited for this moment since, what, 2002 or so? The NFL as a whole benefits greatly from this. It sucks to have a team that sucks. The Commanders are likely in good hands with Harris, who is wealthy and passionate and has extensive experience in pro sports. Snyder’s sale is also great for the other 31 NFL owners. It’s not just that the $6 billion price tag proves the ever-increasing worth of professional sports franchises; it’s not just that their bottom lines will improve without having to split revenue with Snyder’s perennially broke franchise; it’s not even that they won’t have to deal with a man who, according to a report by ESPN in October, hired private investigators to find dirt on them. It’s clear that purchasing a sports club is the safest investment any billionaire can make when even the poorest owner in American sports is able to sell the Commanders for a record price.
By selling the team, the other NFL owners may avoid the unpleasant task of excluding Snyder from their exclusive club of billionaires. A vote by NFL owners to compel Snyder to sell the franchise was discussed last autumn, with Colts owner Jim Irsay openly calling for a vote. It would have been unprecedented for a team owner to be expelled from the club by the other owners in the contemporary era of sports. Despite the fact that Snyder’s squad was a joke and he was the subject of a Congressional inquiry, this of course never occurred. It was never likely that the NFL owners would vote Snyder out and establish a precedent where an NFL club owner could lose his team against their will, despite their growing frustration with him.
In the end, Snyder got to sell the team voluntarily—under pressure, sure, but of his own accord. Following repeated reports in The Washington Post revealing accusations of pervasive sexual harassment across the company, the NFL launched its first inquiry into the working culture of Snyder’s team, but the conclusions were never made public. There is still an ongoing second probe. The better time to air out Snyder’s wrongdoing and hold him accountable for it was while he was still in charge of the team. Even if the report is made publicly available someday (and it better be), it’s hard to take power away from someone who has sold their power for $6 billion.
Everyone benefits from the news that Snyder is selling the franchise, but Dan Snyder stands to benefit the most. The sole consequence for this man’s over 25 years of public ineptitude is that he will walk away with more money than anyone could ever hope to spend in their entire lives.