Dan Snyder gives Commanders fans hope for a change in ownership


The news, while vague and subject to change, came on Wednesday as a heavenly statement. Daniel Snyder, the billionaire who oversaw the complete ruin of a top NFL franchise, is open to selling the Washington Commanders. Maybe the team can huddle at the end of practice and break up with shouts of “Hallelujah!”

Too early? Yes of course. But that day, that dream didn’t seem so far away.

While the announcement that Snyder has hired an investment bank to “consider potential transactions” has yet to make their prayers seem answered, long-suffering fans can at least feel their boos. have been heard. The impact of numerous investigations into the alleged wrongdoings of the owner and his organization was felt.

In recent weeks, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has lobbied and claimed ‘there’s credit to be taken away’ from Snyder for creating a toxic work culture, which included a troubling history of misogyny that has led to many forms of abusive behavior towards women. Now Snyder, who has tarnished the reputation of a franchise still considered one of the most valuable in the NFL, is “exploring all options,” according to a team spokesperson.

Daniel Snyder plans to sell Washington Commanders

That doesn’t mean Snyder is certain to sell the team. He could be trying to shore up his financial position as he pursues the endless pursuit of a new stadium, and the cleanest way to do that would be to seek out new minority investors. But last year Snyder bought out three limited partners for $875 million after a contentious process, and it would be an embarrassing and reckless move for any businessman to partner with Snyder.

It makes no sense morally; associating with an NFL outcast invites incomprehensible scrutiny and guilt-by-association. It is also questionable financially; the price would be exorbitant for such a small percentage of a team in which the investor would have little say. And there’s still the investigation into financial irregularities that Congress first flagged in March, raising new questions about Snyder’s integrity.

In August, Forbes estimated the Commanders to be worth $5.6 billion. If so, the raw calculations indicate that a 10% stake should cost $560 million. But the negotiation is tricky because the true value of owning a small part of a sports team is never a straightforward discussion. Who wants to approach $1 billion for a piece of Snyder’s headache?

Snyder surely doesn’t want to sell the commanders. But he and his wife, Tanya, make the wise decision to look around. In a fair sporting world, there would be no luxurious options to explore. He would have already faced such a rigid responsibility that he would not have a team. But that’s not how this game works. Facing trouble he’s caused on all sides, Snyder is lucky enough to escape on a golden parachute. He doesn’t deserve it, but people who still love this franchise and remember what it can be deserve freedom. Shutdown could be on the way – finally.

For a change, there could be a roster for Snyder and a fan base that turned against him. There could be hope for a resolution that doesn’t involve years of litigation and an all-out war between Snyder and the rest of the NFL team owners. But such a scenario requires a motivated group of owners who would probably have to pay an absurd and record price.

Rob Walton and his group bought the Denver Broncos for $4.65 billion in June, setting the highest new selling price. Forbes ranked Denver the 12th most valuable NFL team. Commanders were sixth, and in Snyder’s case, we’re talking about a stubborn owner forced to consider something he’d rather not do. All of the deals could start at the $5.6 billion estimate, but they probably won’t stop there. It would have to be the best deal to attract Snyder.

He’s 57, a teenager compared to most NFL owners. He was 34 when he bought the team in 1999, fulfilling a childhood dream. With good health and the dexterity to continue to overcome his problems, Snyder could easily lead the franchise for another quarter century. He paid $800 million for a team valued at seven times as much now, but despite making so much money on such bad football, the multiplier has to keep humming to assuage the lack of emotional return on investment.

Snyder made himself a villain through his actions. After 23 years, he can’t do anything to change that. During a Week 7 game against the Green Bay Packers at FedEx Field, the crowd – whose members chanted “Sell the team!” this afternoon – booed Tanya Snyder when she appeared in a breast cancer awareness video. Such moments must sting the most. Tanya is a breast cancer survivor, but at that time she symbolized nothing more than an awful reign that won’t end. There is no compassion, no understanding at this stage of the relationship. There is no respect either. There is only despair.

Wednesday provided an indicator that the desperate feeling is mutual. For more than two decades, Snyder often functioned as if he could do it forever, unfazed by criticism and focused solely on his own happiness. But what happens when the privilege of not having to answer to anyone starts to evaporate?

Snyder has few allies who aren’t on his payroll and an overflowing list of people who can explain in detail why being associated with him isn’t worth it. His opponents aren’t just the exasperated fans he can’t convince. They are in government. These are women and former employees who refuse to be silent. It is lawyers and civic leaders who mock his foolish efforts to persuade several municipalities to engage in a bidding war for a new stadium. And now, with Irsay as the face of disapproval, it looks like the NFL owners are ready to give up one of their own.

Snyder didn’t just wake up and decide to be transparent. He didn’t want us all to know he was considering “potential deals,” but he needed the richest of the rich to know that, with all the heat he’s feeling, he’s ready for a game of “Offer- me something ridiculous”.

He needs options. He needs to get out of the corner in which he finds himself trapped. He needs a path to a victory – or at least a justification for an otherwise forced exit.

It’s premature for fans to rejoice as a wayward owner announced a process that might be long and tenuous, but it was a great day nonetheless. Snyder doesn’t seem so provocative anymore.

James C. Tibbs