UPDATE: Snyder Under Investigation by Feds

Washington Commanders owners Dan and Tanya Snyder
Washington Commanders owners Dan and Tanya Snyder
Photo: USA Today Sports Images


NFL Week 9 - According to a report from ESPN's Don Van Natta, the U.S. attorney's office has opened a criminal investigation into the allegations that the Washington Commanders "engaged in financial improprieties."

The story specifies that the investigation was triggered by a letter the House Committee on Oversight and Reform sent to the Federal Trade Commission and several attorneys general in April 2022, citing evidence of deceptive business practice spanning over a decade. A story from the Forbes released at that time claims the Commanders withheld security deposits from season ticket holders that should have been refunded over the course of a decade. It also alleges the team underreported ticket revenue to both the NFL and IRS, keeping two sets of books in order to navigate the league's revenue-sharing policy without paying as much.

"It is not surprising that ESPN is publishing more falsehoods based solely on anonymous sources -- given today's announcement," read a statement from attorney John Brownlee, which Commanders spokeswoman Jean Medina forwarded to ESPN. "...We are confident that, after these agencies have had a chance to review the documents and complete their work, they will come to the same conclusion as the team's internal review -- that these allegations are simply untrue."

Snyder is still under investigation by the NFL for "matters involving alleged sexual misconduct in the Commanders' organization."

Original Story:

According to a report from Forbes, Washington Commanders owners Dan and Tanya Snyder have officially hired Bank of America Securities to begin exploring the sale of the team.

'Dan and Tanya Snyder and the Washington Commanders announce today that they have hired BofA Securities to consider potential transactions," read the statement published by ESPN's Adam Schefter. "The Snyders remain committed to the team, all of its employees, and its countess fans to putting the best product on the field and continuing the work to set the gold standard for workplaces in the NFL."

Forbes reports that "Snyder already has at least four calls from groups interested in buying the team," further stating "Snyder and his bankers are exploring all options and a transaction be for the entire NFL team or a minority stake."

The news comes after mounting allegations against Dan Snyder and the Commanders franchise as a whole. In the last two years, Snyder has been accused of sexual harrassment, fostering a toxic workplace culture, and under-reporting ticket sales to the NFL and IRS. The NFL forced Snyder to give up responsibilities of the team to his wife, Tanya, in July 2021.

In October 2022, ESPN released a story claiming Snyder was using private investigators to dig up "dirt" on fellow owners as well as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the event they force Snyder to sell the team. Five days later, NFL owners held their regularly scheduled meeting; afterward, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay told media that he believes they have the 24 votes necessary to remove Dan Snyder as co-owner of the Commanders. 



39 comments, Last at 03 Nov 2022, 12:11pm

#1 by meep 42@hotmail com // Nov 02, 2022 - 12:04pm

As someone who grew up in the DC area pre-Snyder and has since renounced my fanhood, this is fantastic news.

Points: 0

#2 by ChrisS // Nov 02, 2022 - 12:30pm

Hope he sells. Problem is most potential buyers are likely to be asholes as well

Points: 0

#3 by theslothook // Nov 02, 2022 - 12:39pm

As someone who believes power corrupts otherwise decent people; I think there's a lesson here beyond Dan Snyder is a reprehensible person.

Dan Snyder grew up a fan of the Redskins. And without wading into the specifics of how he became rich, it appears he did it the old fashion entrepreneurship way. And he got to realize the dream almost every fan of a team imagines: Owning a Franchise. To me, this is different than a trust fund kid being gifted a new mercedes on his 16th birthday. There's something about realizing a long in the works/long shot vision that you didn't know how it would be yours when you started. That part of the story I find rather humanizing and relatable and quite distinct from the typical billionare who decides owning a team is the hip thing to do.  

But then you have to remember, a sports franchise is not a vanity object. A sports team is literally and figuratively a living breathing organism composed of flesh and blood human beings.  And treating it as if its your own plaything/fiefdom results in exactly what the now Commanders have become; an on the field disaster and an off the field horror show. 

Once again, I don't know Dan Snyder, but I can imagine what happens when the alure of something overtakes all reason and you get this. It reminds me of Jay Gatsby and his unhealthy/unrealistic obsession with Daisy. Sometimes, if we let our greatest desires become expressions of lust that are so divorced from reality; we end up going beyond tragic comedy to just plain sad tragedy.


I should be clear. Above and beyond what I wrote, none of this is a defense of Dan Snyder the human being. 

Points: 0

#5 by Noahrk // Nov 02, 2022 - 1:38pm

That might all be true, but this is also a person who doesn't have a lot of respect for the concrete flesh-and-blood human beings he meets, not only for the abstract nameless human beings that are a part of a large organization. Without the first, the latter is simply not possible.

Points: 0

#7 by robbbbbb // Nov 02, 2022 - 2:00pm

An interesting parallel to consider.  Before his death Paul Allen was exactly the same thing: A local boy made good who decided to buy his childhood team and invest in them.

The Seahawks had experienced short periods of success before (the Chuck Knox years) but had never had a sustained period of excellence until Allen bought the team.  And then they had two: One with Mike Holmgren, and now another with Pete Carroll.

I don't know that there's any lesson to be learned here, aside from that different people have different management skills and styles that they bring to the table.  It's possible that the Washington franchise gets an owner who not only loves the team, but is a competent manager.

Points: 0

#12 by Kaepernicus // Nov 02, 2022 - 4:11pm

In reply to by robbbbbb

That's because Paul Allen was a legitimately intelligent business owner. Snyder got rich off a loan from his dad and sister building a marketing firm that caught lightning in a bottle. Most of the dumbest people I have met who are successful are in real estate, sales, and marketing. They are common collection areas for idiots as well as resource extraction. Snyder's problem has always been he thinks he is much smarter than he is. Allen always came off as the insanely talented person with imposter syndrome who got lucky with timing. All billionaires are lucky in some way. The difference between the good ones and the bad ones is typically if they realize luck was involved with their success or not.

Points: 0

#31 by Pat // Nov 03, 2022 - 9:54am

The difference between the good ones and the bad ones is typically if they realize luck was involved with their success or not.

Not just that. It's also the "movie scientist vs real scientist" problem - in the movies, scientists magically are able to navigate stuff that's way outside of their wheelhouse. Whereas in reality, any person with a lick of brains finds a person who's actually knowledgeable about that stuff and trusts them. People who aren't actually that smart try to pull the "movie scientist" problem: I'm a businessman, this is a business, therefore I should be able to solve it even though it involves totally different skillsets and knowledge.

Guys like Allen are smart enough to realize that the best way to use smarts to have success in a different field is by bringing in guys who know what they're doing, and focusing primarily on not being fed bull$#!+. 

Points: 0

#33 by robbbbbb // Nov 03, 2022 - 10:29am

Yeah.  The thing that really makes me think that Allen was good at this stuff was the way he cut bait on Jim Mora, Jr. right away.  One year, things were a mess, and he cut the dude loose so he could go get Pete Carroll.  And that wasn't a slam-dunk decision at the time!  Allen got a lot of criticism for bringing in Pete Carroll as head coach, and he went forward with it anyway.

Allen was never entirely hands-off with the Seahawks, but he hired football people and let them do their jobs.  He was a model of what "good management" looks like for a football team.

I will note also that his sister has been involved in running his companies for decades, now, and has picked up some of his skills by osmosis.

The Rooneys have done that over the years, too.  Hire good football people, build continuity, and let them do their jobs.  It will be interesting to see what the reaction to this year's Steelers team will be.


Points: 0

#8 by apocalipstick // Nov 02, 2022 - 2:05pm

There were reports that Snyder lied on his financial statements when he bought the WFT.

Points: 0

#10 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 02, 2022 - 2:48pm

I've also heard he's broke, or damned-near.

Points: 0

#16 by ahmadrashad // Nov 02, 2022 - 4:33pm

If evidence emerged that he was shorting the league on ticket sales, that would be the death sentence. 

Points: 0

#9 by JimZipCode // Nov 02, 2022 - 2:12pm

It reminds me of Jay Gatsby


Some owners see themselves of stewards.  I've no love for any member of the Irsay family, but he clearly has some feeling for the legacy. The Maras & Rooneys.  The Browns of Cincinnati.  Steve Bisciotti of the Ravens gives the impression of seeing himself as a steward.

That never seemed to be Snyder's outlook.  Which seems surprising, for a former fanboy.  

Points: 0

#11 by Mike B. In Va // Nov 02, 2022 - 3:20pm

Snyder is proof that hard work and success (although how much work has always been up for debate, since, you know, advertising and high-leverage acquisitions) do not actually make you a good person.

Also a study in the complexity of human beings, since he's hardly a cartoonish-ly evil villian.

Points: 0

#23 by BigRichie // Nov 02, 2022 - 5:48pm

How is Dan Snyder complex? How is he not cartoonishly evil?

Seriously. If he has any redeemable qualities, I'd like to know what are they?

(sure seems you're taking the position that a man with a hundred-dollar bill in his pocket is - at least in general - a more-successful-therefore-superior person to the man with a dime in his pocket)

Points: 0

#32 by Mike B. In Va // Nov 03, 2022 - 10:27am

No, he was (and is still, in some cases) well-known for being involved in charities in the DC area, devoting not just money but time. More than the standard rich-guy stuff, too, although that seems to have slacked off in recent years.

He does seem to see employees as simply ciphers assigned a task and not people, though - and that almost always leads to the kind of bullshit we're hearing about the organization.

Points: 0

#37 by BigRichie // Nov 03, 2022 - 11:53am

To the extent this is so - and not just Snyder drawing more attention to his such work by way of his status as (then-)Redskin owner and/or having professional PR people doing such attention-drawing work on his behalf - yes, this would then be a redeeming quality.

Points: 0

#13 by KnotMe // Nov 02, 2022 - 4:12pm

It's like the old patron of the arts. The best owners are the ones who realize this, hire someone good and just sit back and enjoy it rather than trying to make decisions they arn't qualitied to make.  The NFL isn't one were you can pump in extra money unlike MLB and NBA so the most important quality for an owner is to hire competent people I think. 

Points: 0

#4 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 02, 2022 - 1:00pm

He somehow managed to find an organization even more evil than he is.

Points: 0

#6 by Romodini // Nov 02, 2022 - 2:00pm

Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling,
It's you, It's you must go and I must bide.

Points: 0

#14 by Will Allen // Nov 02, 2022 - 4:22pm

If he was skimming ticket revenue from his cartel partners, that so goddamned dumb it defies belief. Makes me wish Tilman Ferttita owned the Texans, and not the Rockets; ol' Tilman grew up in an environment where cars were known to explode, after people were caught skimming. The idea of an owners meeting where one of the plutocrats takes the Joe Pesci role in the "Do I amuse you?" scene from Goodfellas is something that amuses me indeed!

Points: 0

#15 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 02, 2022 - 4:28pm

Old man Irsay might have tossed him out onto Park Avenue. Through the window.

Points: 0

#17 by Will Allen // Nov 02, 2022 - 4:42pm

Yeah, Jimmy's daddy was a miserable prick of a thief himself, but he was a legitimately tough sunovabitch. Story was he'd drive the truck himself to cross Teamster picket lines, back when that stuff would void a life insurance policy. It just slays me that Snyder was skimming ticket $ from the other 31, as if that had better than a .01% chance of going undetected.

Points: 0

#18 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 02, 2022 - 4:47pm

I find it weird that they re-branded to the Commies and then decided to shop the team.  I thought part of the value to spending a year or three as the Washington Football Team was to shop the team with the added bonus that the new owner gets to re-brand the team.

I suppose the new owner can still re-brand the team, but the money spent on the Commanders brand is down the drain if they do.  All those mugs gone to waste ...

Points: 0

#19 by Will Allen // Nov 02, 2022 - 4:51pm

Does Bezos just King Kong all potential bidders, or does he play coy, and try to pay just a little more than the possible next highest bidder? My guess is he goes Kong.

Points: 0

#22 by robbbbbb // Nov 02, 2022 - 4:59pm

Does Bezos want the Washington franchise, or is he content to wait for the Allen estate to settle out and sell the Seahawks?  He is a Seattle guy, after all.

Points: 0

#24 by Will Allen // Nov 02, 2022 - 5:49pm

In reply to by robbbbbb

My  guess is that he has so much exposure to regulation, on so many fronts, that he wants to spend a LOT of time in D.C. (he has a mansion in Georgetown already), so he'd prefer to buy the team in D.C.. He can alao build out a Kroeneke-style stadium/ mega real estate development in D.C..

Points: 0

#34 by Mike B. In Va // Nov 03, 2022 - 10:30am

The rumor mill has him buying the team and building the stadium in VA at Potomac Yards, which a.) was where Cooke wanted to build it but VA wouldn't play ball and b.) is right next door to Amazon HQ2 in Crystal City. That could be a damn interesting scenario.

This also messes with the Nationals sale, since the Ted Leonsis group would certainly be interested in the Commanders.

Points: 0

#25 by BigRichie // Nov 02, 2022 - 5:54pm

You don't become a billionaire, never mind a multi-to-the-multith-power billionaire, except by squeezing every last nickel.

Bezos will bid no more than he has to. And he will bring in additional investors to cover 49% of the purchase price.

No one with a normal perspective on money becomes a billionaire.

Points: 0

#26 by Will Allen // Nov 02, 2022 - 6:10pm

He wouldn't be doing it as an act of charity or ego. The point is to gain immediate maximum leverage within the group of 32. He owns a streaming service, after all. Nothing like purchasing allies by immediately driving up franchise values, and being the owner, the wealthiest owner, in D.C., gives him more immediate proximity to Congress and Executive Branch regulatory pooh-bahs, that the NFL is entwined with. 

Jerry Jones always tipped his hat to the Murdochs, when FOX got in the game in the early 90s, for making a huge bid to blow up the entire paradigm. If you have the capital, bigfooting your way in can really be the best way to go.


Points: 0

#27 by theslothook // Nov 02, 2022 - 6:21pm

I would think there's a conflict of interest with Bezos being an owner and being a broadcaster for the NFL. He still needs to be approved as an owner by the others.

Also can confirm, one of amazons leadership principles is frugality, something they aren't particularly shy about.

Points: 0

#28 by Will Allen // Nov 02, 2022 - 6:30pm

"I would think there's a conflict of interest with Bezos being an oIPOwner and being a broadcaster for the NFL. He still needs to be approved as an owner by the others."

That's why you make an offer too big to refuse, and start spreading $ around, among anyone with power, and a connection to antitrust enforcement.

Points: 0

#29 by Aaron Brooks G… // Nov 02, 2022 - 10:03pm

If he were a broadcaster, he couldn't carry Friday games.

Points: 0

#30 by RickD // Nov 03, 2022 - 9:45am

There's no way to talk your way out of having two sets of books.  That's fraud.

Points: 0

#35 by Mike B. In Va // Nov 03, 2022 - 10:31am

Also commonplace. You'd be surprised how often the penalty is just pay the back taxes and a fine and admit no wrongdoing.

Points: 0

#38 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 03, 2022 - 12:06pm

What tax auditor is going to going to waste time pursuing a fraud charge when they can simply record the recovery on their accomplishments for the year and move on to the next file.  White collar crime doesn't have the same impetus towards prosecution that violent crime does.  No one's incentivized to litigate.

Points: 0

#36 by ChrisS // Nov 03, 2022 - 11:52am

Not sure thats true. Many companies have internal reporting measures that don't conform to regulated accounting practices and basically keep multiple sets of 'books'. It is fraud if you do it to avoid taxes, or publicly report financial results, or avoid paying funds owned to cartel members

Points: 0

#39 by Lost Ti-Cats Fan // Nov 03, 2022 - 12:11pm

The internal bookkeeping, though, should tie through to (a) the presentation of the financials and (b) the tax returns.  There are lots of adjusting entries (different ones for GAAP/IFRA and the tax returns, as each have their own, different, technical rules), but there should be a reconciliation of those entries.  It's okay to record something as a sale internally, then reclassify as a non-income receipt for either the financials or the tax return, assuming there's a reasonable basis for the re-classification.  It's not okay to record something as a sale internally and then just not carry it forward to the financials or the tax return without an audit trail explaining why.

Points: 0

Save 10%
& Support Cale
Support Football Outsiders' independent media and Cale Clinton. Use promo code CALE to save 10% on any FO+ membership and give half the cost of your membership to tip Cale.