Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder has responded to allegations made against him in an ESPN report, claiming it included “falsehoods” about him and his organization.
The Commanders and Snyder have come under fire several years with allegations about the organization’s toxic workplace environment.
The NFL fined the organization $10 million, and co-CEO Tanya Snyder was told to focus more on team matters while Dan Snyder was told to focus on other issues after last year’s outcome of an investigation into the team.
The ESPN report said Snyder has information to “blow up” several other NFL owners, the league office and Commissioner Roger Goodell. An associate reportedly heard Snyder say, “They can’t f— with me.”
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With NFL owners in New York for fall meetings, Snyder sent them all a lengthy email saying claims in the report were false while taking shots at ESPN.
“It is particularly shameful for ESPN to diminish the very real accomplishments of our President Jason Wright, who ESPN alleges was placed at the Commanders by the League and has no power to make real change. I know you know this to be false. Unfortunately, ESPN ignored our efforts to correct the many falsehoods in their article before its publication,” Snyder wrote in the email obtained by ESPN.
“There is one allegation in the ESPN article that I feel it is important to address immediately. The article cited unnamed sources who said, ‘They’ve been told that Snyder instructed his law firms to hire private investigators to look into other owners’ and Commissioner Goodell. That is patently false and intended to erode the trust and goodwill between owners that I take quite seriously. I have never hired any private investigator to look into any owner or the Commissioner. I have never instructed or authorized my lawyers to hire any private investigator on my behalf for any such purpose. And I never would.
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“While we all are fierce competitors on the field, we are a part of this organization because we love football, our teams and our fans. Having the privilege to own a franchise in America’s sport is something I know none of us take for granted. Falsehoods and lies being spread about any of our organizations hurts our League, our players and our fans, and we simply cannot let them go unchallenged.”
Snyder added that if any of the owners had questions, he and his wife would be available to answer them.
One of the owners at the meetings, Indianapolis Colts’ Jim Irsay, said that he sees “merit” to serious consideration to remove Snyder from his post as owner of the Commanders.
“I believe there is merit to remove him as owner of the (Commanders),” Irsay said via ESPN. “There’s consideration that he should be removed.”
To do so, 24 of the 32 NFL owners would have to vote for the removal of Snyder, and Irsay believe there’s “potentially” enough owners who would vote yes if the league brought it to a vote.
“It is highly inappropriate, but not surprising, that Mr. Irsay opted to make statements publicly based on falsehoods in the media,” a Commanders spokesperson said after Irsay’s comments went public via NFL Network.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Irsay decided to go public with his statement today, while an investigation is in process, and the team has had no opportunity to formally respond to allegations. The Commanders have made remarkable progress over the past two years. We are confident that, when he has an opportunity to see the actual evidence in this case, Mr. Irsay will conclude that there is no reason for the Snyders to consider selling the franchise. And they won't.”
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Snyder’s lawyers, John Brownlee and Stuart Nash, partners at Holland & Knight, also denied the assertions in the report.
“This is categorically false,” Brownlee and Nash said of the dossier claims to ESPN. “He has no ‘dossiers' compiled on any owners.”
The issues surrounding Snyder and the Commanders went all the way to D.C. and have been before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The lawmakers’ investigation found that Snyder played a significant role in fostering a toxic work environment and pointed to evidence that suggested Snyder impeded the NFL’s independent probe into those allegations.
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Congress began investigating the team in October 2021 when allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct arose after then-Raiders head coach Jon Gruden stepped down following the leak of his emails with then-Commanders team President Bruce Allen. Allen was fired in December 2019 after 10 years with the franchise he served in various executive roles, and Wright replaced him.
Snyder refused to testify at a hearing before the House lawmakers in June as part of the investigation. Goodell did offer his testimony before the committee.
Goodell condemned the workplace culture in Washington but clarified that changes were implemented after the NFL’s investigation. Goodell argued the changes impacted not only Washington but the entire league.
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While a vote to remove Snyder won’t be occurring at the fall meetings, it could come as soon as the winter meetings.