Report: Daniel Snyder Blocking Washington Minority Owners from $900M Sale

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2020

Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is shown before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)
Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

Washington Football Team majority owner Daniel Snyder is stymieing efforts by the franchise's minority owners to sell their stakes, according to the Washington Post's Will Hobson, Mark Maske and Liz Clarke.

A group of outside investors has offered to purchase a 40 percent stake in the Washington Football Team for $900 million, only to have Snyder intervene, per the Post:

"Their offer has been tentatively accepted by the team's three minority shareholders: FedEx chief executive Fred Smith, real estate magnate Dwight Schar and investor Robert Rothman. But Snyder is blocking the sale, according to people familiar with the situation, by attempting to selectively exercise his right of first refusal to buy back minority shares of the team before they’re sold to other parties. While the three minority owners are seeking to sell their 40 percent share in unison, according to these people, Snyder has offered to buy only the 25 percent held by Smith and Rothman, not the 15 percent owned by Schar."

The New York Times' Ken Belson and Katherine Rosman reported Nov. 13 that Smith, Rothman and Schar filed suit in a U.S. District Court in Maryland to facilitate their sale.

"The limited partners said that Snyder's effort 'flies in the face' of their partnership agreement, according to the court filing reviewed by the New York Times," the report said.

The acrimony began when Snyder deferred paying out annual dividends in the spring, which "led to a series of accusations that included financial mismanagement of the team and efforts to smear Snyder," per the Times. Snyder then removed Smith, Rothman and Schar from the board.

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The Washington Post reported the three minority owners have not only soured their relationship with Snyder but also frustrated the NFL and fellow team owners by involving the courts.

The Washington Football Team has been embroiled in numerous off-field sagas within the last year.

Snyder once emphasized that he would "NEVER" change the nickname of the franchise, even though it was a racist slur for Native Americans. Washington finally gave in to the pressure and dropped the name in July.

Three days later, the Washington Post published the first of two investigations into an alleged toxic culture of sexual harassment and verbal abuse within the organization. The initial report implicated Larry Michael, the team's former senior vice president of content, and Alex Santos, the former director of pro personnel, among others. Michael allegedly spoke about female co-workers "in sexual and disparaging overtones." The Athletic's Rhiannon Walker had previously told the organization that Santos "repeatedly asked her to date him" while making inappropriate comments toward her.

The Post followed up in August and leveled serious allegations against Snyder.

The report said Michael instructed video staffers to collect outtakes from a behind the scenes video of the team cheerleaders' 2008 swimsuit calendar photo shoot in which the women's breasts were exposed. Michael allegedly said the video was to be made for Snyder.

Former Washington cheerleader Tiffany Bacon Scourby also alleged that Snyder suggested she and one of his friends go to a hotel room during a 2004 charity event to "get to know each other better." Former cheerleader director Donald Wells said he spoke with Scourby about the incident and that she felt "more or less propositioned."

As a result, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported in July the Washington Football Team was hiring local attorney Beth Wilkinson to "conduct a deep dive into the organization's past culture" and noted that "team officials are highly upset/frustrated about speculation running amok." One month later, the NFL took charge of the investigation while retaining Wilkinson in her role.

According to Hobson, Maske and Clarke, the effort by the minority owners to sell their stake is in part because they don't expect the NFL to force Snyder to sell upon the conclusion of the ongoing investigation.