I read a report last week in USA Today that some of the NFL owners were beginning to “count the votes” in an attempt to force Danny Boy Snyder to sell the Washington Commanders. Obviously, I have no insight into the veracity or the extent of any such activity. However, I will say that there are hundreds if not thousands of Commanders’ fans here in the DC area that went to church over the weekend and lit prayer candles asking The Almighty to let those rumors come to fruition. For anyone who does not live – or has not lived – in the greater DC area over the past 20 years or so, the one-and-only thing that Commanders’ fans hope for more than a new owner is a Super Bowl Championship. Truth be told; I am not so sure that a small cadre of fans would rather see a new owner if given that choice.
Me? I could not care less who owns the franchise. But I suspect that reports about anything imminent happening on that front are either wishful thinking or trial balloons. I know that the NFL Bylaws sets out what must happen to remove an owner or a team if they engage in something that is detrimental to the NFL or to professional football and I know that a vote of 24 or more votes by the 32 owners is what is needed to kick someone out of the club. But I think things will have to get a lot worse before any action of that sort is taken – or even begun in earnest – by other owners or the Commish.
I believe that there have been 4 times when the league has “nudged” an owner to the side:
- The owner of the AFL’s NY Titans, Harry Wismer, was told to sell the team when it got to the point that his payroll checks were not cashable. That would seem to be an airtight reason to get a new owner in place; the Commanders are nowhere near such a state.
- The owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, Leonard Tose, was “convinced” to sell the team when his casino gambling losses got to the point where the team might have had to be mortgaged to pay off the debts. [Aside: Tose also had to liquidate his privately owned trucking company to square everything he owed.] Again, the Commanders and Danny Boy Snyder are nowhere near that sort of financial precipice. [Aside #2: At one point, Tose got a cash loan from another NFL owner, Hugh Culverhouse, and got that owner to guarantee a $3M loan to Tose. Talk about bad optics…]
- The owner of the SF 49ers, Eddie DeBartolo, was suspended by the NFL for one year and he then quietly transferred team control to his sister who continues to own the team. DeBartolo pleaded guilty to federal charges involving extortion by the then governor of Louisiana involving a gambling license on a riverboat there. Danny Boy Snyder is not in any sort of parallel situation here.
- The owner of the Carolina Panthers, Jerry Richardson, agreed to sell the team after his being accused of sexually harassing employees. His decision to sell the team obviated any sort of action by other owners but interestingly – to me – the league seemed only too happy to get a new owner there so that the “story would go away”.
It is Situation #4 above that may have a parallel in the case of the Commanders and Danny Boy Snyder. There have been stories of a “toxic workplace” for women – especially team cheerleaders – under Snyder’s ownership and one woman alleges that Snyder inappropriately touched her. There has been no action to adjudicate those charges and the NFL conveniently made sure there was no written report of the findings of the investigation that it conducted into the “toxic workplace” allegations. As I said, there may be some parallel here, but it is not the most robust of comparisons.
Here is why I think things would have to get a lot worse before any sort of movement to kick Danny Boy Snyder out of the club can gain momentum.
- I think that it is 100% certain that Daniel Snyder would sue the NFL and the other owners up and down the course of any such movement to oust him. Remember, this is the man who sued his team’s season ticket holders in the aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse when some of them could not afford to maintain their payments on those tickets. He is no stranger to lawsuits.
- The danger for the NFL and owners in that situation is that court proceedings are far more open to public scrutiny than are the private dealings among the owners and/or the NFL’s closed arbitration sessions that are used to resolve disputes of all kinds. In the situation where this gets down and dirty, this could turn into a matter where both sides choose to employ a scorched earth tactic against the opposition. If you think the Huge Culverhouse loan to Leonard Tose mentioned above was a bad optic, think about what this could evolve into.
As I said above, I care about who owns the team about as much as I care about who the team’s long-snapper is; it just does not matter to me. But I do think that it matters to Danny Boy Snyder a lot; not only is it an asset that continues to make him wealthier, owning an NFL team is something he does that others who may be far wealthier than he cannot do. Some men look around to find a “trophy wife”; Danny Boy Snyder has a “trophy asset”. And for that reason – in addition to the Commanders’ profitability – I think he is not going to sell the team voluntarily or without a fight.
He had to eat crow publicly when he had to rename the franchise after he said he would NEVER do that. Somehow, he does not strike me as someone who enjoys eating crow – – and selling his team would be tantamount to eating crow again.
Finally, since most of today involved me presenting my opinion on a situation, let me close with this entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Opinionated: Knowing absolutely nothing really loudly.”
But don’t get me wrong, I Iove sports………