The world — the NFL world, the sports world, my world, your world, the galactic expanse of infinite space and time — is better off with less Daniel Snyder in it. That Snyder, the longtime owner/ruiner of the Washington Commanders, appears to have finally decided to sell the team, perhaps to a group led by Magic Johnson and Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Josh Harris, is unequivocal good news. One of the league’s most moribund franchises will be able to reinvent itself. Washington fans might finally get to watch a competent, winning team. The NFL has been trying to push Snyder out for more than a decade, and now they no longer have to deal with their most embarrassing owner, a title for which there is considerable competition. Daniel Snyder is about to become a smaller part of everybody’s lives. We’re lucky for that. Life, like Daniel Snyder, is too short.
Still, it feels strange to celebrate. Snyder, who couldn’t have done more damage to the franchise he bought in 1999 if he had started attacking individual season ticket holders with a hatchet, sold the team for $6.05 billion. That’s the biggest sale price for a sports team in history, nearly three times as much as Steve Cohen paid for the Mets in 2020, and it’s all going into Snyder’s pocket. Considering Snyder bought the team in 1999 for $800 million — which, at the time, was also the highest price in sports history — and that is … well, it’s quite an appreciation of value over a 24-year span. (To be clear, this is largely a reflection of the NFL’s unstoppable rise in recent years, not savvy management.) Snyder not only got away with urinating on a civic institution for 24 years, but ended that run with even more unfathomable wealth than he already holds. He just made as much money as the Sacklers had to pay out for their role in the opioid epidemic. We should all face such punishment!
While the current scandals Snyder’s embroiled in — he is currently being investigated by the NFL for repeated sexual-harassment allegations and fostering a culture of abuse; by attorneys general in Virginia and Washington, D.C., for “financial irregularities”; and by federal authorities for bank fraud — may have been what finally pushed him to sell, they are just the latest grotesqueries in a long line of corruption, incompetence, and general dipshittery that have exemplified his ownership. Annotating every single scandal of the Snyder Era would be impossible to do here without taking up all of New York’s server space (Defector’s great Dave McKenna did an encyclopedic rundown of Snyder’s malfeasance for Washington City Paper … 13 years ago) and the only throughline has been Snyder’s ability to get away with all of it. Last June, Congress attempted to call Snyder to testify, but he didn’t show up. So they got NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who told them, simply, “I don’t have the authority to remove him.” (Snyder eventually sat for an 11-hour closed-doors deposition.) Snyder was so awful that neither Congress nor NFL owners — groups that contain some of the most awful people in the world — could get rid of him. His decision to finally sell feels like a capitulation on his part, but an unsatisfying one.
He’s not done causing trouble for the league, either. One of the provisos Snyder reportedly insisted upon in his deal to sell the Commanders was that whoever buys it to essentially indemnify him from any legal liabilities he may have incurred since 1999. Quite understandably, no credible bidder would go for that. But Snyder (or someone with his interests in mind) isn’t giving up. Pro Football Network’s Arif Hasan reports that out of nowhere, a last-minute, incredibly shady bid has emerged from a group that includes a Duke basketball player named Brian Davis with a history of financial problems. No one understands whether this group has enough money to buy the team, or where it got it if it did. The only thing that distinguishes them? They specifically say they will indemnify Snyder. As the 31 other NFL owners come together to vote on the ultimate deal — two-thirds approval of which is required for any sale — it sure looks like Snyder is trying to gum up the works one last time to get himself more protection, to help himself at the expense of everybody else. Again.
And I bet the league, and the new owners, give it to him, for the same reason Snyder has been getting away with everything for so many years: The quickest way to get rid of him is to give him what he wants. To join the exclusive club of NFL owners is to be as protected a human being as anyone on this planet, to be part of a coterie of billionaires who answer to no one — even, in the case of Snyder, themselves. Daniel Snyder, who legitimately might be the worst sports owner of the last 50 years, is getting $6 billion (or more) to get out of our lives. He will stand as the worst that sports has to offer, forever, and he’s going to make it as excruciatingly painful to at last push him out the door as possible. We will curse him, and watch him rub $6 billion in our faces with unabashed glee. It will still be worth it to have him gone.
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