The Commanders Are Sold – – Almost

There was no joy in Mudville when mighty Casey struck out.  That is not the situation today for sports fans in the Washington DC area.  According to reports late yesterday, Danny Boy Snyder has agreed to sell the Washington Commanders to a group led by Josh Harris.  Let me be clear; Josh Harris is simultaneously unknown in this area and welcomed as a conquering hero.  Washington fans have a very short list of people who would be less attractive as the Commanders’ owner than the incumbent; the fact that Harris is not on that list makes him outstanding.

The reported final price for the franchise is $6B; that is a lot of motivation to sell.  Notwithstanding that bid for the team, I think there is a bit more to it.  After years of fighting and resisting investigations related to the Watergate break-in and the subsequent cover-up, President Nixon got a visitation.  Senator Goldwater and a contingent of Senators who had supported Nixon told the President that he would be impeached and convicted by the Senate; the President pre-empted that act and resigned.  In the case of the Washington Commanders – far less important and consequential than a Presidential impeachment – I wonder if something similar happened.

Sportswriters have excoriated Snyder for about 2 decades; he has been investigated, sued and declared persona non grata by the politicians in the area where he wanted help to build a new stadium.  If those actions/reactions really hurt Danny Boy Snyder, he hid it very well; he gave an Oscar-worthy performance for at least the last 15 years.  I believe he was happy to be an NFL owner; he was making a tidy sum annually by being an NFL owner; he was in the public spotlight; he probably would have been happy to continue on that path until his demise.  [Aside:  Daniel Snyder is only 58 years old; so, his “demise” is likely decades into the future.]

The only real threat to his status as an NFL owner is the existence of a mechanism whereby he could lose his franchise to the league.  That is a draconian action by the other owners which has never been implemented – – but it does exist.  I have said in the past that the other 31 owners would only use that draconian mechanism if/when Snyder’s actions had some sort of negative affect on their annual profits and/or on the valuation of their franchises.

Obviously, I have no inside information here and could not begin to prove the following speculation:

  • I wonder if an influential NFL owner or three found a way to get a message to Danny Boy Snyder on his super yacht at sea to let him know that his support among the owners for continuing to be an owner has eroded and by selling the franchise he can avoid a messy and embarrassing situation down the road.
  • I am not suggesting anything that is “Godfather-like”; I think it may have been much more somber and matter-of-fact.

As ecstatic as Commanders’ fans are this morning, this is not yet over the finish line.  According to reports, a deal has been reached but not signed yet.  That has to happen before the final legal and financial statements are submitted to the other 31 NFL owners for their approval.  The owners met at the end of March and should meet again in another two months or so; that might be a logical point for them to take up this matter – – assuming all the paperwork gets to them in time for their review.  Moreover, there is still a potential cloud in the sky for the franchise:

  • Mary Jo White continues her investigation of “financial irregularities” that may have occurred in previous years.  The NFL has said that the results of this investigation will be made public.  This could be a tempest in a teapot, or it could be something that leads to litigation and embarrassment galore.

Once the sale is completed – – and I have every expectation that it will close by the time training camp opens in mid-July – – it will be interesting to see how local and state politicians change their tune regarding the team’s overtures to build a new stadium.

Let me start at the beginning here.  The previous owner, Jack Kent Cooke, could not get support to put a stadium that he would build himself until he purchased the land and put it up on his own.  He wanted it done before he died so it was basically thrown together; when it opened, it was called Jack Kent Cooke Stadium and it had all the charm and elegance of a reinforced-concrete mausoleum.  It has undergone facelifts and cosmetic “enhancements” over the years but here is a paraphrase of a remark by one of the local sports radio hosts about 20 years ago when the Vet in Philly closed:

  • This is a sad day for Washington football fans.  As long as The Vet was in operation, Washington did not have the worst stadium in the league, but now it does and it’s less than ten years old.

I have not been to all 32 NFL stadiums, but I have been to FedEx Field and the biggest compliment I will pay to it is:

  • It isn’t horrible; it is merely a dreary place lacking any semblance of comfort or class.

Danny Boy Snyder was basically shunted off to the side by state and local politicians in Maryland, Virginia and DC regarding construction of a new stadium.  The team needs a new one and now that the owner of the team is not toxic, it will be interesting to see the attitudes of the pols change from aloof to engaging.

Josh Harris and his partners in this purchase are heroes this morning.  When they close on the deal and the other NFL owners approve the change of ownership, they will face the task of cleaning up the image of Commanders’ ownership; and that task will not be pleasant, nor will it be easy.  I wish them only good fortune in those endeavors.

Finally, I said above that the new owners are being welcomed as conquering heroes this morning.  Therefore, I believe these words by playwright, Bertolt Brecht are the way to close today:

“Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



2 thoughts on “The Commanders Are Sold – – Almost”

  1. As long as I have read this column, Sports Curmudgeon has railed against Danny Boy Snyder. Who will be SC’s NFL villain now?

    Regarding a draconian measure by the NFL owners to remove Danny Boy, this is hubris. As long as the NFL owners are making money, it won’t happen. And they are making money.

    1. TenaciousP:

      There are plenty of owners to rail against for hubris and/or stupidity, but i m not quite sure there is a replacement for Danny Boy when it comes to cupidity.

Comments are closed.