Snyder’s grip on the franchise, a once-beloved social institution that has waned through two decades of dysfunction, has loosened in recent weeks as calls from fans to sell the team spread to league-owner circles, most vocally. from Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. Even then, Snyder made defiant statements about never selling the team — as he once stated he would never change the team’s name, which he eventually did under pressure from sponsors in 2020.
Since Snyder dropped the name, a move intended to cement his position within the league, a whirl of accusations and subsequent investigations have jeopardized his status. Snyder has long been the subject of fan disdain and eye-rolling from co-owners. But the tumult of the past 2½ years paved the way for Wednesday’s announcement.
Dan Snyder hires investment bank to consider “potential trades”
On July 13, 2020, days after team sponsor FedEx called for franchise to drop the “Redskins” name on the grounds that it was a taint, the team announced it would “retire” the name without an immediate introduce replacement. In the weeks leading up to the announcement, three minority shareholders began selling their shares, representing a total of 40 percent of the franchise.
Three days later, The Washington Post published a report in which more than a dozen women claimed to have experienced sexual harassment and verbal abuse by team members. The allegations led to the resignation or resignation of multiple front office officials, including longtime radio voice Larry Michael, and led Snyder to hire powerful attorney Beth Wilkinson to investigate the team’s workplace.
In mid-August, Snyder hired Jason Wright to replace Bruce Allen, making Wright the first president of the black NFL team. The choice of Wright, a former NFL running back turned business consultant, was critically acclaimed. The goodwill would not last.
The Post published another story on August 26, 2020, in which former employees alleged more lewd behavior in the workplace, including the production of a video featuring footage of partially naked cheerleaders being filmed without their knowledge during a photo shoot. Five days later, the NFL oversaw Wilkinson’s investigation. The Post would later report that Snyder, against his public statements, had interfered with the investigation.
As the investigation progressed, Snyder’s bitterness with his minority partners grew, court documents released in December 2020 showed. In March 2021, the owners of the NFL’s finance committee approved a debt forgiveness that would allow Snyder to borrow $450 million to buy out the partners, giving him his hands on the entire franchise.
The ramifications of Wilkinson’s investigation came months later, nearly a year after it began. On July 2, 2021, the NFL fined Snyder $10 million and, while he did not officially suspend Snyder, said his wife, Tanya Snyder, would take control of the franchise. The league did not release Wilkinson’s report, but instead provided a summary, a decision that drew much criticism and continues to reverberate.
“The culture of the club was very toxic and not up to the values of the NFL,” said Lisa Friel, the league’s special research council.
In response to the league’s decision not to release the full findings of Wilkinson’s investigation, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform opened an investigation into the team’s corporate culture in October 2021, in part to pressure the NFL. to make the findings public.
That same month, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times published excerpts from emails sent to Allen in 2011 by then-Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden containing racist, homophobic language. The emails were part of the trove of documents the NFL reviewed as part of its investigation. Many within the competition suspected that Snyder or someone in his employ had leaked them, which Tanya Snyder reportedly denied to co-owners during a competition meeting.
Arrest made in Brian Robinson shooting shop
Washington ended the 2021 season without a name, still by the Washington Football Team. On Feb. 2 — days after former quarterback Joe Theismann dropped the new name during a radio interview — the franchise revealed it had chosen to be called the Commanders.
The next day, former cheerleader and marketing executive Tiffani Johnston accused Snyder of sexual harassment in capitol Hill lawmakers’ testimony, part of a slew of new claims filed with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
In response to the new allegations directed directly against Snyder, the NFL hired former US attorney Mary Jo White to investigate and prepare a report for Commissioner Roger Goodell. The investigation is still ongoing.
The congressional committee met again in late June, days after The Post reported that in 2009 Snyder paid a former female employee a $1.6 million settlement after she accused Snyder of sexual assault. Snyder denied the accusation. Goodell testified against lawmakers via Zoom for 2½ hours while a seat with Snyder’s name stood empty in front of it because he refused to attend. The commission was due to subpoena Snyder, and he made a 10-hour statement in July.
As allegations and investigations mounted, Snyder tackled the dilemma of finding a new stadium to replace FedEx Field, an aging facility the franchise plans to move out of by 2027. Snyder has found unwilling partners in local municipalities in three states. In May, it was revealed that the commanders had secured the rights to purchase 200 acres in Woodbridge, Virginia, as a possible stadium location. Several Virginia lawmakers vehemently opposed dealing with the team, one of them doubling down weeks later when defensive coordinator Jack del Rio downplayed the failed Jan. 6 uprising as a “dust-up.”
As the league braced itself for White’s findings, sentiment among owners shifted, several people told The Post. In September, many owners began to believe that the league should force Snyder to sell the franchise. Forcing a sale requires the approval of 24 of the 32 owners. An ESPN report last month in which anonymous people said Snyder told his employees he had “dirty” co-owners heightened the tension.
At a competition meeting in New York on Oct. 18, Irsay made those feelings public when he told reporters, “I believe there is merit in removing him as an owner.”
The commanders reacted strongly, calling the comments inappropriate. In a statement, a spokesperson insisted that once all the evidence came to light, “Mr. Irsay will conclude that there is no reason for the Snyders to consider selling the franchise. And they will not.”
About two weeks later came the revelation from Snyder himself that, after a 2½ year whirlwind, they could.