Dan Snyder

Jeff Bezos Not Barred From Commanders Bid

Before Dan Snyder sold the Commanders to a group of investors led by Josh Harris last year, there was wide speculation about who all would be taking place in the bidding process for the franchise. An obvious name came up in Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, due to his ownership in local news outlet, The Washington Post, but word came out that Bezos’s ability to bid was not a reality. Conflicting reports have surfaced of late claiming that Bezos was not blocked from the vote but was simply outbid, per Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

This insight comes from a recent article from the Financial Times which suggests that Snyder did not, in fact, block Bezos from submitting a bid. It claims that Bezos simply did not put forth a bid worth more than the $6.05BB-offer put forth by Harris and company.

Snyder certainly has had issues with the Post and its views, also voicing displeasure for Bezos himself. That being said, Snyder is reportedly not so petty that he would turn down an offer for more money if it came from Bezos. An unnamed source for the Financial Times claimed, “I don’t think Snyder would have not sold to them if Jeff came in with a bid of $7(BB).”

Business reporter Daniel Kaplan, formerly of The Athletic, dissents that perhaps Snyder was, in fact, that petty, but once the funding difficulties of the Harris group became known, Snyder became more open to the idea. Kaplan particularly notes that the potential for more money could have softened Snyder’s resolve, as well.

Florio suggests the stance that perhaps the lack of a late bid from Bezos to outdo the $6.05BB-figure was not due to an inability to match the desired amount but was more a valuation determination. He puts forth that, should Bezos shell out the money it takes to buy an NFL franchise, the Commanders would not be worth the trouble. A damaged brand, an outdated stadium, and a slew of other messy situations left by the preceding staff make Washington a tough sell.

Instead, Florio claims that the smarter move would be to wait for the next franchise, perhaps the Seahawks, to hit the market. The NFL has made it known that they certainly have interest in having Bezos as a part of their ownership group. If interest is ever to turn into reality, a franchise with far less baggage may make the most sense for the billionaire.

NFL Finance Committee Recommends Approval Of Commanders Sale

JULY 20: In advance of the finance committee’s in-person meeting, Maske and Jhabvala noted that its informal vote produced a 7-0 result. As a result, confidence remains high that the full owners’ meeting will produce a unanimous approval of the sale later today.

JULY 18: In advance of the special league meeting during which owners will vote on the proposed sale of the Commanders to Josh Harris, the NFL’s finance committee has set the stage for ratification. An informal meeting amongst the group removed the two remaining potential obstacles to approval.

Mark Maske and Nicki Jhavbala of the Washington Post report that the finance committee gathered remotely and conducted a ‘straw poll’ on the matter of the impending $6.05 billion sale from Dan Snyder to Harris. Not all eight members took part, but the result amongst those who did was a unanimous recommendation of approving the sale. When all league owners meet in person on Thursday in Minneapolis, the expectation remains that the Harris purchase will go through.

A potential roadblock to that development emerged last week, with the issue of indemnification relating to Snyder and the rest of the league regarding the ongoing Jon Gruden lawsuit representing a threat to the sale. On that point, though, the Post reports that an agreement has been reached which will resolve the matter, paving the way for approval of the sale. That process will see the record for North American sports franchise sales broken for the second consecutive summer, and allow Harris to add an NFL team to his name (in addition to the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils).

An official vote by the finance committee is set to take place on Thursday not long before the full league meeting. Owners are expected to follow the committee’s recommendation, and there has been little to no doubt during this process that the minimum 24 ‘yes’ votes will be attained for the sale to go through. Ratification will pave the way for Harris’ group to assume control of the franchise in time for the opening of training camp next week.

Notably, the Post report adds that Snyder recently spoke with investigator Mary Jo White concerning her ongoing investigation into him and the Commanders. The much-anticipated report from White could be released shortly after the sale goes through, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has committed to making the findings public. The league has received renewed pressure to release the report upon completion, and Snyder’s remarks will no doubt be a point of interest once they are revealed.

With the ratification vote still on track, the Snyder era remains set to come to an end later this week. Harris is not expected to make any substantial changes upon taking charge of the franchise, one which will again be the subject of plenty of attention in the coming days.

Dan Snyder Indemnification Issue Poses Threat To Commanders Sale

Last week, all parties appeared to be in the clear regarding the sale of the Commanders being approved without issue. That may still ultimately be the case, but a new development could threaten the sale being ratified as scheduled.

Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post report that issues related to negotiations between outgoing owner Dan Snyder‘s legal representation and the NFL could “complicate the approval and closing” of the sale. Specifically, the matter of indemnification represents a possible roadblock late in the sales process, though it is unknown at this point whether it will be sufficient to delay the owners’ ratification vote.

The issues are believed to be at least partially related to Snyder’s alleged involvement in the events which led to Jon Gruden‘s resignation and subsequent lawsuit. A report from yesterday on the matter provided further details on the Raiders’ handling of their then-head coach, and the accusation that Snyder leaked the emails which resulted in Gruden’s departure during an investigation into the Commanders. Gruden has vowed to continue his ongoing lawsuit against the NFL, so it would come as little surprise if Snyder were to use the coming days to acquire further legal protection related to the suit.

Snyder is not thought to be seeking indemnification for himself or the Commanders regarding the ongoing investigation into himself and the franchise. However, his willingness to provide legal protection to the league’s other owners and, perhaps most importantly, commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL attorney Jeff Pash with respect to the ongoing Gruden situation is in question. The Post reports that Snyder is not prepared to sign an affidavit stating he did not leak the emails which cost Gruden his job, something he previously was willing to do. The team’s position denies that, noting that he has already testified he is not responsible for the leaks.

Another factor which could complicate matters is Snyder’s sister Michele, a part-owner of the Commanders. She is reportedly unwilling to indemnify the league and other owners as they pertain to the Gruden case, something which is likely to be one of the terms of the franchise’s sale agreement. All Commanders owners must fully agree to all provisions of the agreement, which is set to see Josh Harris purchase the team for $6.05 billion.

One of the Post’s sources describes this latest development as “signficant,” though some time does still remain to resolve the complications before the ratification vote, which is scheduled for July 20. It will be worth watching if this emerges as a last-minute hurdle to be cleared, or a wider issue threatening what has long been expected to be a unanimous approval of the sale.

Jon Gruden Does Not Intend To Settle Suit; Latest On Dan Snyder’s Role In Scandal

Jon Gruden has resurfaced on the NFL radar, seeing the Saints bring him in as a consultant earlier this offseason. Gruden spent time working with Derek Carr, with the Saints wanting to install some of Gruden’s concepts in their Carr-led offense. Carson Wentz is also receiving Gruden pointers while training as a free agent this offseason.

But the veteran NFL coach is unlikely to land another top job in the league given the way his most recent HC stint ended. More details surrounding Gruden’s Raiders exit have come to light, via ESPN.com’s Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham, who report the team was initially aiming to retain the embattled coach before the second batch of problematic emails dropped on October 11, 2021.

Communication between Gruden, an ESPN employee when he wrote these seminal emails, and then-Washington president Bruce Allen included crude remarks about Roger Goodell, gay NFL players, female referees and Washington cheerleaders. The first email — made public Oct. 8, 2021 as a result of the NFL’s Dan Snyder investigation — included Gruden using a racist trope to describe NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith. In between that email becoming public and the wave of New York Times-uncovered emails three days later, Mark Davis planned to stick with Gruden. Before the second wave of emails emerged, Davis discussed Gruden’s status with current and former Raiders, per Wickersham and Van Natta, who report some wanted the embattled HC gone while others did not.

In between the Wall Street Journal report and the New York Times follow-up that ended up sealing Gruden’s fate, Davis and then-Raiders president Dan Ventrelle spoke with Roger Goodell and lead NFL counsel Jeff Pash. The two NFL bigwigs applied pressure on Davis to act, according to ESPN, with Goodell indicating more emails were coming. While Gruden coached the Raiders’ Week 5 game — a loss to the Bears — he submitted a forced resignation the next day. A month later, Gruden sued Goodell and the NFL.

Thus far on Gruden’s legal journey, he has enjoyed success. Gruden does not intend to settle this suit, according to ESPN, for any amount and aims to “burn the house down” to expose the league for an alleged conspiracy to remove him as Raiders HC. After Davis was nudged to remove Gruden as HC, the Raiders owner blasted the league and Snyder in a conversation with the recently dismissed coach.

The Gruden matter coming out of the NFL’s Snyder investigation helped induce the House Oversight Committee to launch its investigation into the Washington owner. The Congressional probe included Lisa Friel, the NFL’s special counsel for investigations, indicating the leak came from the Commanders and not the league. Denials from every accused party — except for Smith, whom ESPN asserts bragged about leaking the email that included Gruden’s racist trope to describe him — have followed. Gruden has long believed Goodell was responsible for the leak.

Snyder is accused here of leaking the emails to curry favor with the commissioner and to deflect from his scandals. The longtime Washington owner, however, is believed to have attended each of his team’s games during his suspension. Snyder’s July 2021 de facto ban was supposed to last “several months,” but he believed the punishment was to last only a month. With Snyder already receiving what most perceived as a light penalty (the $10MM fine, the short ban and the Beth Wilkinson investigation not producing a report), some owners believe he would not have been effectively forced to sell his franchise had he complied with the terms of the 2021 suspension.

Months later, an ESPN report that contended Snyder had gathered dirt on Goodell and a number of owners accelerated the push for a sale. Snyder and Philadelphia 76ers/New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris have agreed on a sale, and a ratification vote is scheduled for July 20. Snyder, who remains the subject of a second NFL investigation, has owned the NFC East franchise since 1999.

No Issues Expected In Upcoming Commanders Sale Vote

July 20 looms as the date at which NFL owners will convene to vote on the sale of the Commanders to Josh Harris. Issues with his historic bid to purchase the franchise have been detailed in recent months, but they are not poised to interrupt or threaten the sale being approved.

Last month, the NFL scheduled a special league meeting for July (the earlier of the two proposed dates) to bring the sales process across the finish line. As has been the case since Harris entered into an exclusive agreement with outgoing owner Dan Snyder, the expectation remains that the league’s finance committee will provide a unanimous recommendation for the owners to approve the sale.

On that point, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports (via Twitter) that the situation is “right on course” as the vote approaches. Concerns have been raised with respect to matters such as financing Harris’ $6.05 billion purchase (comfortably the largest sum paid for a North American sports franchise) and the size of his investment group, but the league has been eager to smooth them over in their attempt to oust the embattled Snyder. The ratification vote taking place as planned would, of course, mean the outstanding problems concerning the Harris takeover have been fully resolved.

Another matter to monitor is the status of the Mary Jo White report into the Commanders’ workplace and allegations of financial improprieties. With the ratification vote imminent, the league is facing a new round of pressure to release the findings of the report, something commissioner Roger Goodell has publicly committed to doing. The same was not true of the Beth Wilkinson-led investigation into Snyder and the team in 2021, one which resulted in a fine and suspension for the much-maligned owner.

With the transition to Harris all-but assured, questions have also been raised regarding the organizational changes the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner could make. The team’s front office and coaching staff appear to be safe for now, as Harris may be best suited to take a patient evaluation approach while coming into power not long before the start of his first season at the helm. His tenure as owner should still be expected to commence later this month with no hurdles left to clear.

NFL Urged To Release Mary Jo White’s Commanders Report

The NFL is inching closer and closer to the conclusion of its relationship with Commanders owner Dan Snyder. A special league meeting has been set for July 20, in which the team owners are expected to vote to ratify the sale of the franchise to Josh Harris for $6.05 billion. That’s only one part of the league’s situation with Snyder. The other part entails their investigations into allegations against the soon-to-be former owner of sexual misconduct and financial malfeasance. According to Mark Maske of The Washington Post, the NFL has been urged by the House Committee to release a report on the investigation upon its completion.

To be clear, this is the second investigation into the allegations against Snyder. The first investigation, conducted by attorney Beth Wilkinson, was conducted back in 2021. The findings of the investigation were not released by the NFL, but it did result in a fine to the team of $10MM and the forced assumption of day-to-day operating duties by Snyder’s wife, Tanya. The findings were concealed due to promises of confidentiality made to witnesses.

The Oversight Committee released a 79-page report on the Wilkinson investigation in December claiming that Snyder “obstructed” the committee’s investigation and failed to provide full and complete testimony, as his attorney had pledged he would. The report also claimed that the NFL failed “to address Mr. Snyder’s interferences” and that the league played a role in concealing the team’s toxic work environment.

This second investigation was conducted by attorney Mary Jo White, a former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The investigation has not yet concluded, but already, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability has urged the league to release the findings of the report upon its completion. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had pledged before to release the report in “full transparency,” so the letter from representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the Committee, was a call to abide by Goodell’s pledge when the opportunity comes.

“More than a year has passed since your pledge to ‘share the results of that investigation,’ yet, to date, no part of the information has been released to the public,” Raskin wrote. “In light of the impending sale of the Commanders franchise, I urge you to honor your commitment to release the report in its entirety and ‘take additional disciplinary action if warranted.'”

We’ve seen in previous reports that Snyder is opposed to the pledge by Goodell. It’s been reported that Snyder had called to keep the findings confidential in February and was lobbying the league to limit the release in May, though the Commanders denied both reports. Despite Snyder’s continued efforts to cover up the findings of White’s report, it’s not believed that the issue should hold up the sale of the franchise at all.

It’s unclear, as of yet, exactly when the report will be concluded. Snyder has refused to be interviewed by White for the investigation to date, but some believe that White will request his participation at least one more time before concluding her investigation. It will be interesting to see just how much, if anything, is released by the league upon the report’s conclusion and if any action will be taken due to the results.

Date Set For Vote On Commanders Sale Ratification

Not long after a pair of dates were provided to NFL owners as possible days on which a special league meeting could take place to ratify the sale of the Commanders, one has been agreed upon. The final step in the sales process now appears to be in place.

A league meeting has been scheduled for July 20, as detailed by Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post. That represents the earlier of the two possible dates floated last week (August 8 being the other), and could allow the sale to be approved in time for the opening of training camps around the league. The Commanders’ camp opens on July 26.

It is expected the league’s finance committee will provide a unanimous recommendation to approve the sale, the Post report adds. The committee met at length with prospective owner Josh Harris and investment group member Mitchell Rales earlier this month to discuss the outstanding issues with the proposed purchase agreement. The number of investors and an ability to remain under the league’s debt ceiling have been causes for concern during the vetting process, but the scheduling of the ratification vote suggests they will have been smoothed out by next month.

Harris and current owner Dan Snyder reached an exclusive agreement on a sale in May. The $6.05 billion price tag will comfortably surpass that of Rob Walton‘s Broncos purchase last summer and thus set a new North American sports record for franchise sales. It will also represent an end to Snyder’s much-maligned tenure at the helm of the Commanders, one which has been marked by a number of investigations into toxic work environments and financial improprieties.

A probe led by NFL investigator Mary Jo White into Snyder and the Commanders remains ongoing, but it could conclude in time for the ratification vote. The findings of that investigation are set to be made public, and the Post notes that they could result in commissioner Roger Goodell imposing a fine on the team. Issues of indemnity regarding Snyder and the other owners have been a sticking point over several months, but the eagerness to remove the former from the league has long been a driving force during the sales process.

At least 24 votes will be required to approve the sale to Harris’ ownership group, something which has not been in doubt since he and Snyder first entered into a purchase agreement. With the finance committee set to compete its vetting process and present a ‘yes’ recommendation to the full slate of owners in the coming weeks, the finish line in this process is firmly in sight.

Dates Emerge For Ratification Vote On Commanders Sale

The next round of NFL owners’ meetings are not on tap until October, but the league is making preparations for a special session regarding the Commanders sale.

Owners have been informed to be available on July 20 or August 8 for a meeting that would include a ratification vote, according to the SportsBusiness Journal’s Ben Fischer (Twitter link). Vetting of Josh Harris‘ Commanders purchase is ongoing, but dates emerging certainly points to confidence the sale will be ratified by one of these two dates. Roger Goodell said recently he expects the sale to be ratified, providing a rather clear indication the item will meet the required 24 votes to pass.

Harris, who agreed to terms with Dan Snyder to buy the Commanders for a record-shattering $6.05 billion, has said he is willing to work with the league on a more amenable deal structure. Issues concerning the amount of debt held by the potential new owner, as well as some tax and incentive matters, have arisen. But the NFL owners have long been eager to finalize Snyder’s exit, opening the door for the large Harris-headed ownership group.

Harris is not believed to need to make many adjustments to his bid structure, per CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones (on Twitter). He and group member Mitchell Rales met with the NFL’s eight-man finance committee last week, and the meeting is believed to have gone well. Signs continue to point to the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner adding an NFL team to his portfolio before the start of the season.

The NFL most recently held a special session last August — for the ratification of Rob Walton‘s summer 2022 Broncos purchase. That did not encounter any speedbumps, and owners approved the Walton group’s acquisition just less than two months after the $4.65 billion bid arrived. Harris’ more complex bid structure has brought a slower-moving vet. He reached a nonexclusive agreement with Snyder in mid-April, and the parties came to terms on the exclusive deal — one the NFL is still vetting — May 12. If the NFL calls the meeting for July 20, the time between the Harris purchase and ratification will not end up being much longer than Walton’s.

Walton’s $70 billion-plus in net worth provided no liquidity-driven complications, whereas Harris’ net worth (estimated at just more than $6 billion) has required a number of investors. A prospective primary owner must be able to furnish 30% of the total sales price in cash at the time of the purchase, and while this component has added to the finance committee’s task, it would still be a shock if Harris was not ratified as the new Washington owner. While this bid structure might not be approved under normal circumstances, the owners’ chance to end Snyder’s increasingly scandal-ridden tenure running a franchise has long superseded concerns pertaining to the bid.

Latest On Sale Of Commanders

In one of our most recent updates on the situation, we mentioned a meeting between Josh Harris and the NFL owners finance committee set to take place today. The meeting with the eight-member committee did, in fact, occur today, and according to Mark Maske and Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post, it went very well.

Harris attended the meeting with fellow investor Mitchell Rales. Rales, co-founder of the Danaher Corporation, is one of the group’s top investors and reportedly holds favor with the committee. Other reported investors include South American billionaire Alejandro Santo Domingo, whose family’s portfolio includes the likes of Anhueser-Busch InBev, Chilean bank Corpbanca, and Spanish bank Inmobiliaria Colonial, ex-CEO of Google Eric Schmidt, chair of the DC Open tennis tournament Mark Ein, and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.

The meeting was intended to be an opportunity for Harris to address a number of issues the committee had with his most recent proposal, namely issues concerning the amount of debt held by the potential new owner, as well as some tax and incentive issues. Maske and Jhabvala reported that the two and a half hour meeting “was productive and, barring any unforeseen setbacks, the sale is advancing toward expected ratification by the league’s team owners as soon as next month.”

In the meeting, Harris was apparently very cooperative and “continued to pledge to make the requested adjustments to his deal.” The impending ratification is contingent on Harris meeting those requests, but everyone around the situation seems nearly certain that he will be able to do that.

The next owners’ meeting isn’t scheduled to take place until October, but a call for a special session is expected to take place to assist the progress of the sale. The special session could take place as soon as late July and would require approval from 24 of the league’s 32 owners. The approval is not a main concern, as the owners generally follow the finance committee’s recommendations in situations like the sale of a franchise. The vote, theoretically, could be taken remotely, but for important matters such as this, the league tends to prefer an in-person meeting.

Part of the rush comes from the exclusivity of the deal. Harris reached a signed, exclusive agreement with current owner Dan Snyder on May 12, following the submission of a nonexclusive version of the deal to the NFL for an informal review. The exact number isn’t known but the time limit on Harris’ exclusivity is estimated to be either 60 or 90 days. Seeing as the next scheduled owners’ meeting is far beyond that deadline, the special session becomes crucial.

So, to this point, Harris and the finance committee have come to an agreement as to what will make the deal acceptable. The finance committee will meet several more times virtually to ensure that things are on track and a vote will hopefully be taken in the next 60 days. The owners are reportedly eager to approve the deal and oust Snyder, but they need Harris to meet their demands. The finish line is coming more and more into focus with each report and seems just on the horizon.

Latest On Sale Of Commanders

We had a couple of recent updates to the situation around the sale of the Commanders from Dan Snyder to Josh Harris this week. We were provided with a peek into the thoughts of the owners on one of the factors holding up the sale, as well as an update into the Brian Davis lawsuit.

The sale has been stalled lately in part due to some concerns over current requirements for franchise sales, specifically the requirement that a prospective primary owner must be able to furnish 30 percent of the total sales price in cash at the time of the purchase. There’s been some recent speculation that, due to the skyrocketing price tags on franchises, the league may rethink this stipulation. The practice was much more sensible years ago, when the Panthers sold for around $2.28 billion, but with the Commanders’ bids breaching $6 billion, the 30 percent requirement is much more difficult to manage.

According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, it doesn’t sound like the current owners care. Breer reports that none of the owners he spoke with had an “appetite for changing the rule.” The owners currently believe that Harris will come up with the cash necessary and, if he does, the issue will be pushed down the road.

It could be pushed two sales down the road if the Seahawks are next on the chopping block. If presumed bidders Steve Ballmer or Jeff Bezos end up with winning bids, they likely wouldn’t have any trouble coming up with the cash. That should be a non-issue, though, as chairman of the team’s ownership group Jody Allen has confirmed that the team is still not for sale, according to Rachel Bachman of The Wall Street Journal.

In unrelated news, gaming law and sports betting attorney Daniel Wallach provided the update that Davis’s lawsuit against Bank of America has been withdrawn. Davis’s company, Urban Echo Energy, sued Bank of America claiming that they failed to present his bid to buy the Commanders to the responsible parties. Bank of America came back with allegations that the documents provided as proof of the transfer looked obviously fictitious.

It sounded like the case may reach a negotiated settlement, but with the allegedly fictitious documents in hand, it sounds like Bank of America may have earned an upper hand. The demand for the lawsuit, originally a ludicrous $500 billion, already was dropped to $990K. Bank of America did not join Urban Echo Energy in the filing of the withdrawal, so it’s unclear what the steps are moving forward. It sounds like Davis’s attorney may potentially face sanctions if the documents and claims are deemed fictitious, but in the meantime, Davis’s involvement in the sale of the Commanders has likely come to an end.