As quoted, is one memorable veteran NFL team owner who tells ESPN, “That’s not true. All owners hate Dan” an all-time person. It came in response to a claim in a long ESPN story in which Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Commanders, said the NFL was a mafia and all franchise owners loathed one another.
If you’ve been following the league for any length of time, it’s no news that Snyder is being berated by his franchise peers, but it was still entertaining to watch. It was a nugget in an incredibly thorough report by Don Van Natta Jr., Seth Wickersham and Tisha Thompson released Thursday. It’s chock-full of sizzling tidbits, from the megalomaniac Snyder, who appeared to have had other team owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell watched by private investigators, to a league meeting in 2003 where Snyder, still not 40, called the Bidwill family on a pitch insulted to get a Super Bowl at FedEx Stadium instead of Arizona to form Washington executives who claimed Snyder would sometimes yell, “I’m the damn owner, and if you don’t, I’ll kill you.” when it came to making personal choices on the pitch that he wanted. (According to the report, this was done half-jokingly. Which also means he was half-serious, but we digress.)
Here’s what resonates more than anything from the report: NFL franchise owners, as a class, are a terrible bunch who care about nothing but money and power, and damn anyone who gets hurt in the pursuit of either.
Again, if you’ve been following the league with a critical eye for any length of time, this isn’t news. It masked the dangers of repeated concussions; fought fiercely to adequately compensate former players for the health problems they will be struggling with in retirement, which almost certainly stem from traumatic brain injuries; allowed a horrific racial normalization practice that minimized the brain trauma suffered by black players compared to white players; banned a black player for asking that his fellow black citizens not be wantonly killed on the street by state agents; and generally shuts down any mistreatment of women, including in its own league offices.
This is just a short list of recent examples.
This particular passage in ESPN history lays it all out so clearly and should remove any doubt as to whether these franchise owners have redeemable qualities or are working for a greater common good:
When asked if his co-owners would forgive Snyder for the team’s financial woes and toxic culture scandal if Snyder could build a new stadium, the owner was quick to reply, “Yes.”
When asked if Snyder was aware of this, the owner said, “Yes.”
Dozens of former Washington employees have accused Snyder of overseeing a toxic, misogynist workplace in team offices, and the NFL has botched its investigation and punishment so badly that Congress is investigating things.
A former employee who accused Snyder of sexually assaulting him on his private plane in 2009 was awarded a $1.6 million settlement at the time, and Snyder has since tried to pay her more for her continued silence, according to the attorney Woman. She flatly refused.
According to a Washington Post report, scores of cheerleaders were taken out of the country for a photoshoot, their passports confiscated, and forced to pose naked while gaping, horny suite owners looked on. Moments when the women’s private parts may have been exposed as they adjusted between takes were reportedly stitched together into a video, aka the “good parts,” for Snyder’s lewd consumption.
Whatever was uncovered by lead investigator Beth Wilkinson and her team, Goodell sided with Snyder and kept it under wraps, requiring Wilkinson to only give him an oral presentation of the findings, not a written one.
The women who have fallen victim to the horrific surroundings have twisted in the wind, asking whoever will listen to help them seek justice.
The NFL doesn’t care.
Not to be overlooked, ESPN reports that Snyder claims to “smear” several of his team owners and Goodell, and his threat to expose any or all of them if they try to force him to sell the franchise is the reason for that . It hasn’t happened yet. It’s fair to ask: are they as dirty as Snyder? What are you afraid of that will come out?
If just a few team owners had the moral clarity and backbone of the former employee who turned down another seven-figure payday to protect Snyder, the NFL would have cut ties with it enfant terrible in the meantime.
Snyder’s mismanagement of what was once one of the league’s marquee franchises means empty-seat home games even after reducing the capacity of the Commanders’ crumbling stadium, as well as falling revenues with no upside on the horizon. And there’s also the product on the pitch that’s a laughing stock. As a partner in the club of NFL team owners, he plays no part.
Snyder is now considered so toxic that a bipartisan stadium proposal was protected by two of Virginia’s top lawmakers after a public outcry over handing public money to a man with his laundry list of alleged transgressions. And yet, as this team owner was all too quick to tell ESPN, all will be forgotten when Snyder performs a miracle and squeezes millions of taxpayer dollars out of some Sap politicians to secure a stadium deal somewhere in the DMV region in the coming months.
(We say “forget” instead of “forgive” because that implies his behavior is a cause for concern for all other team owners, and Snyder might actually apologize.)
In one word — “Yes” — one NFL franchise owner made crystal clear what some of us have long believed to be true: The men and women who run the league don’t care about other people, or a greater good, or even about most fans, some of whom inexplicably still side with the players who put their bodies on the line and without whom there is no game.
They care about nothing but amassing money and the power that comes with it.
And woe to anyone who gets in the way.
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