The Washington Commanders announced on Wednesday that the team and its owners have hired Bank of America Securities to “consider potential transactions”, raising the possibility that Dan and Tanya Snyder could sell the scandal-hit franchise.
“The Snyders remain committed to the team, all of its employees and its countless fans to putting the best product on the field and continuing the work to set the gold standard for workplaces in the NFL,” the statement said.
Wednesday’s statement is open to interpretation and the Snyders could choose to sell only part of the Commanders or nothing at all. However, it arrives at a time when the Snyders have come under increasing pressure to sell up.
In 2020, reports emerged that workplace sexual harassment against female employees was pervasive at the Commanders, and Congress is currently investigating the allegations. The NFL launched its own investigation into the claims and fined the Commanders $10m. There are also investigations in Washington DC and Virginia into allegations of financial misconduct at the Commanders, which the organization denies.
Last month, ESPN reported Snyder had hired private investigators to dig up dirt on his fellow team owners and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The Commanders denied the contents of the report, calling it “categorically untrue” and “clearly part of a well-funded, two-year campaign to coerce the sale of the team, which will continue to be unsuccessful.”
However, the Indianapolis Colts’ Jim Irsay later became the first NFL owner to call for Snyder to sell the team. Removing Snyder would require 24 votes from the other 31 team owners but Snyder can choose to sell the team voluntarily.
“It’s something we have to review, we have to look at all the evidence and we have to be thorough and it’s something that has to be given serious consideration,” Irsay said last month. “I believe in the workplace today, the standard that the shield stands for in the NFL, that you have to stand for that and protect that. I just think once owners talk among each other they will arrive at the right decision. Unfortunately, I believe that’s the road we probably need to go down and we just need to finish the investigation, but it’s gravely concerning to me the things that have occurred there over the last 20 years.”
Snyder has also squabbled with minority partners before buying out their shares; delayed changing the team’s former nickname, which was widely perceived as racist; and taken criticism for botching late safety Sean Taylor’s jersey retirement.
Snyder’s regime has also seen the team fail on the field. They last won a playoff game in the 2005 season and regularly play in front of vast swathes of empty seats.
Snyder bought the team in 1999 for $800m. Forbes this year valued the Commanders at $5.6bn.