Lawyers for Ex-WFT Staff Criticize NFL's Approval of Daniel Snyder's Debt Waiver

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2021

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, file photo, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder listens to head coach Ron Rivera during a news conference at the team's NFL football training facility, in Ashburn, Va. A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press the NFL has taken over the independent investigation into workplace conduct within the Washington Football Team. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

Attorneys representing former Washington Football Team employees, who have alleged they were sexually harassed during their time with the organization, spoke out this week against the NFL's approval of WFT owner Daniel Snyder buying out the minority interest in the franchise.

According to Matthew Paras of the Washington Times (h/t ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio), the attorneys sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that read, in part:

"We are shocked that you have not only ignored [a reported recommendation for Snyder to sell the team], but have instead facilitated an arrangement that leaves Mr. Snyder in a stronger ownership position than before. Today's actions by the NFL and its owners give everyone great concern that your past statements characterizing the conduct of the organization as 'abhorrent' were just hollow and meaningless words to appease those who have bravely stepped forward and spoken up."

ESPN's John Keim reported Wednesday that NFL owners voted unanimously in favor of allowing Snyder to purchase 40.5 percent in equity from Washington Football Team minority owners Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman.

Approval of the sale came after attorney Beth Wilkinson, who is independently investigating the sexual harassment allegations made by former female WFT employees, was reported to have recommended that Snyder be forced to sell the franchise by the NFL. An NFL spokesperson denied the NFL had received the recommendation to Mike Jones of USA Today, and Keim reported the investigation is still ongoing.

In order to make the sale possible, the NFL granted Snyder a debt waiver of $450 million. That allowed Snyder to buy the remaining 40.5 percent in equity for $875 million.

Now, Snyder and his family own 100 percent of the Washington Football Team.

In July, the Washington Post reported 15 people reported they were sexually harassed while employed by the team. In August, the Post followed up with a report that cheerleaders were secretly filmed topless while taking part in a calendar photoshoot. The video was said to have been filmed in order to be shown to Snyder.

The 56-year-old Snyder first bought a significant stake in the franchise in 1999, and he had been working with minority owners Smith, Schar and Rothman since 2003.

Snyder blocked an attempt by Smith, Schar and Rothman to sell their stake to a group of investors for $900 million, opening the door for Snyder to purchase those stakes.