The controversies that led Dan Snyder to consider selling Commanders.jpgw1440

The controversies that led Dan Snyder to consider selling Commanders

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Wednesday’s announcement that Daniel Snyder would be engaging an investment bank to consider the potential sale of the Washington Commanders came after a dizzying spate of events over the past two and a half years, a period in which Snyder and his franchise of Changes, controversies and scandals have been recorded since 1999.

Snyder’s grip on the franchise, a once-loved bourgeois institution eroded by two decades of dysfunction, has eased in recent weeks as calls from fans to sell the team spread to league owner circles, loudest in Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay. Even then, Snyder released defiant statements about never selling the team — having once stated he would never change the team’s name, which he finally did in 2020 under pressure from sponsors.

Since Snyder dropped the name, a move meant to boost his standing in the league, a flurry of allegations and subsequent investigations have threatened his status. Snyder has long been the subject of fan scorn and eye rolls from co-owners. But the turmoil of the last two and a half years paved the way for Wednesday’s announcement.

Dan Snyder hires an investment bank to review ‘potential transactions’

On July 13, 2020, days after team sponsor FedEx asked the franchise to drop the “Redskins” name on the grounds that it was an insult, the team announced it would “retire” the name without an immediate one introduce a replacement. In the weeks leading up to the announcement, three minority owners began selling their stakes, which collectively made up 40 percent of the franchise.

Three days later, the Washington Post published a report in which more than a dozen women reported sexual harassment and verbal abuse from team members. The allegations led to the firing or resignation of several front office officials, including longtime radio announcer Larry Michael, and prompted Snyder to hire senior attorney Beth Wilkinson to investigate the team’s workplace.

In mid-August, Snyder hired Jason Wright to replace Bruce Allen, making Wright the Black NFL team’s first president. The selection of Wright, a former NFL running back turned highly respected management consultant, was widely praised. The good will would not last.

The Post published another story on August 26, 2020, in which former employees alleged lewd behavior in the workplace, including the production of a video featuring footage of partially nude cheerleaders being filmed at a photo shoot without their knowledge. Five days later, the NFL assumed oversight of Wilkinson’s investigation. The Post would later report that contrary to his public statements, Snyder had intervened in the investigation.

As the investigation progressed, Snyder’s acrimony against his minority partners grew, court documents released in December 2020 revealed. In March 2021, the owners of the NFL’s Finance Committee approved a debt relief that allowed Snyder to borrow $450 million to buy out the partners, putting the entire franchise in his hands.

The fallout from Wilkinson’s investigation came months later, nearly a year after it began. On July 2, 2021, the NFL fined Snyder $10 million and said, although Snyder was not officially suspended, his wife, Tanya Snyder, would take control of the franchise. The League did not release Wilkinson’s report, instead offering a summary, a decision that drew widespread criticism and continues to resonate.

“The club’s culture was very toxic and fell far short of the NFL’s values,” said Lisa Friel, the league’s special counsel.

In October 2021, in response to the league’s decision not to release the full results of Wilkinson’s investigation, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform launched an investigation into the team’s work culture, in part to pressure the NFL to release the findings.

That same month, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times published excerpts of emails that then-Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden sent to Allen in 2011 that contained racist, homophobic language. The emails were part of a trove of documents the NFL reviewed as part of its investigation. Many within the league suspected that Snyder or someone in his employ leaked them, which Tanya Snyder reportedly denied to other owners at a league meeting.

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Washington finished the 2021 season with no name, still walking past the Washington Football Team. On February 2 — days after former quarterback Joe Theismann revealed the new name during a radio interview — the franchise announced it had settled on the Commanders name.

The next day, former cheerleader and marketing manager Tiffani accused Johnston Snyder of sexual harassment while testifying before lawmakers on Capitol Hill, who were part of a bevy of new allegations brought before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

In response to the new allegations aimed directly at Snyder, the NFL hired former US Attorney Mary Jo White to investigate and prepare a report for Commissioner Roger Goodell. The investigations are ongoing.

The congressional committee met again in late June, days after The Post reported that Snyder had paid a former employee a $1.6 million settlement in 2009 after she accused Snyder of sexual assault. Snyder denied the allegation. Goodell testified before lawmakers for 2½ hours via Zoom while a chair with Snyder’s name in front sat empty because he refused to attend. The committee would subpoena Snyder, and he gave a 10-hour statement in July.

As allegations and investigations mounted, Snyder addressed 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 municipalities in three states. In May it was announced that the Commanders had acquired the rights to purchase 200 acres in Woodbridge, Virginia as a possible stadium site. Several Virginia lawmakers raised strong opposition to dealing with the team, one of whom doubled down weeks later when defense coordinator Jack del Rio downplayed the failed Jan. 6 riot as a “cloud of dust.”

As the league braced itself for White’s results, sentiment among owners changed, several people told The Post. By September, many owners believed the league should force Snyder to sell the franchise. To force a sale would require the approval of 24 out of 32 owners. An ESPN report last month in which anonymous people said Snyder had told his employees he had “dirt on” co-owners added to the tension.

At a league meeting in New York on Oct. 18, Irsay made those feelings public when he told reporters, “I think it makes sense to remove him as an owner.”

Commanders responded vigorously, calling the comments inappropriate. In a statement, a spokesman insisted that “Mr. Irsay will conclude that there is no reason for the Snyders to consider selling the franchise. And they won’t.”

About two weeks later came the revelation from Snyder himself that they could after a whirlwind of 2½ years.