Latest On WFT Ownership Turmoil

Though the Washington Football Team may be able to clinch the NFC East with a win over the Panthers today, the club can never seem to escape drama. In addition to quarterback Dwayne Haskinspoor decision-making that made headlines this past week, more developments in the team’s ownership dispute continue to take attention away from the on-field product.

As Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman of the New York Times wrote last month, three minority owners — Frederick Smith, Robert Rothman, and Dwight Schar — are trying to sell their combined 40% ownership stake in the team. According to Michael Phillips of the Richmond Times-Dispatch (citing the Washington Post), the potential buyers are Behdad Eghbali and Jose Feliciano, co-founders of California-based private equity firm Clearlake Capital.

The problem is that majority owner Dan Snyder has the right of first refusal when minority owners attempt to sell their shares, and Snyder is reportedly willing to purchase the 25% share owned by Smith and Rothman but not the 15% share owned by Schar. Smith, Rothman, and Schar have filed suit seeking a ruling that Snyder must purchase all of the shares or none of them (as their value is higher collectively than individually).

A few days ago, Will Hobson, Beth Reinhard, and Liz Clarke of the Washington Post published a story revealing that WFT paid a former female employee $1.6MM as part of a confidential settlement in 2009 after the employee accused Snyder of sexual misconduct that allegedly took place on Snyder’s private plane. Snyder believes the timing of the article is not a coincidence, and he has filed his own suit claiming that Schar is engaging in a smear campaign and is attempting to gain leverage in the ownership dispute by leaking information concerning the settlement.

As John Keim of details, the Post story was published several days after a New York Times piece which made clear that two separate investigations in 2009 failed to substantiate the former employee’s claims. Plus, Snyder did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement, and Snyder himself said that the team’s insurance carrier ultimately decided to settle the matter.

Of course, a number of former female employees came forward just this summer with allegations of a longstanding culture of sexual abuse within the organization, and an investigation into those allegations is ongoing. But the last we heard, Snyder himself was not directly involved in any harassment or abuse, so unless there are new developments in that regard, Snyder will not be forced to sell the club.

In the minority owners’ suit against Snyder, the court issued an order “requiring the parties to maintain confidentiality and to refrain from disparaging any of the other parties,” as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. On January 7, the minority owners and Snyder will appear in court to answer questions regarding their potential violations of that order. And according to Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, the NFL has hired former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to assist in its investigation into Schar’s alleged smear tactics.

As Florio observes in a separate piece, the league does not approve of the minority owners taking their dispute to court, and it obviously wants to prevent other partial owners from forcing the hand of a majority owner by manipulating the media. But the league will also need to investigate the alleged 2009 incident, and depending on the outcome of that investigation, Schar may end up getting what he wants anyway.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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19 comments on “Latest On WFT Ownership Turmoil

    • forwhomjoshbelltolled

      Evidently, you can’t correct it anymore if you accidentally hit the thumbs up button. – 1

      I love that you read this article about Snyder being human vermin and decide that Florio was the one you needed to trash. Says it all.

      • K3vin

        Agreed, Snyder seems like such a scumbag in everything he does. NFL needs to take the team away from him, like NBA did with Sterling.

      • Ak185

        The article does not say that Snyder is vermin. If you entered with that assumption, then you’ll read that into it. But that’s why I prefer this site to Florio’s-Mike Florio really doesn’t give anyone an option to disagree with him, and even deletes comments from his readers that he doesn’t like.

        Of course, I am of the opinion that Snyder is not in my view a good person. However, I do have to be fair and say that it does say that two separate investigations cleared Snyder of personal wrongdoing in the sexual allegations. He may be a childish and selfish business owner, but the sexual allegations are as of yet unproven. As far as I remember, Bruce Allen was the person indicated as allowing that. Snyder would of course deserve some scrutiny for allowing Allen to poison that environment (on multiple levels beyond even the sexual harassment). Still not good, of course, but not quite guilty of everything. But I got a little off-point: Snyder being vermin does not exclude Mike Florio from being a snarky insecure vulture who feasts on others’ misfortune and recycles it for his personal gain and virtue signaling.

  1. lol, Snyder is suing a guy for leaking that he’s a scumbag who paid a woman $1.6 million to cover up harassing a woman? Good luck with that, bud.

    I’m a Giants fans so I hate WFT, but I’m also a Knicks and Mets fan, so I know how bad awful ownership is. For the sake of all WFT fans, I hope Snyder somehow sells the team soon. They will never win anything with him at the helm.

  2. crosseyedlemon

    Seems to me Schar should have bought out the other two minority shareholders and gained himself more leverage that way.

    • That sounds like a really good idea, actually. Presumably he didn’t have the funds to, but that certainly would have helped him.

  3. Dtownwarrior78

    First of all, dude is right about Florio, he is a d-bag. But in this case I think it’s d-bags galore because it seems to be the common denominator in this story. Snyder has been a negative, foul stench on this franchise since the day he bought them. Honestly, nearly every single move he’s made in coaching, free agency, drafting, etc has blown up in his face! He’s a real POS and I hope Goodell finds a way to rid the NFL of this moron.

  4. Not a fan of Snyder, but I’m not sure he’s all that much worse than other NFL owners. Former GM Bruce Allen was a real problem – dishonest, sneaky, malevolent, alcoholic – but Allen is gone now. Snyder is just another lousy owner, shouldn’t have kept Bruce Allen around for so long though.

    The RGIII trade up did cripple the team for four or five seasons, so Snyder should keep his nose out of the draft in the future. Apparently he played some role in the drafting of Dwayne Haskins which was made on the basis of arm talent and not on the basis of character or the minimum field awareness and mental processing required to successfully play QB at NFL level.

    Other teams miss on their first round draft picks sometimes too – that’s not the same as trading away a few years’ of firsts for a a single pick/player. That never works out well.

    • Ak185

      Agreed. Snyder may be selfish, incompetent, and vengeful, but he did not personally run the team. Allen executed all of the actual moves, while Snyder’s failure to supervise him or provide competent leadership enabled him. Already Washington is turning its culture around without Allen, and again, Allen being gone is what allowed Snyder to bring in his opposite in Rivera to build the team.

  5. badco44

    Snyder’s play toy, geez this spoiled brat has made so many dumb screw ups draft wise, free agent wise, every time it never fails to blow up in his face… Wash fans are fed up with this clown…20 plus years of crap!

  6. The Mother

    It’s not the first time Dwight Schar is playing dirty and hurts people.

  7. bradthebluefish

    Jeff Bezos, now is your team to buy out the minority owners and get closer to your goal of owning a football team. Washington Amazoners.

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