Making sense of the latest Daniel Snyder bombshells

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Two reports in a span of about 12 hours have shed new light on the messy dispute between Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and his former minority partners, as well as the potential legal fight that could follow his sale of the team.

Meanwhile, according to The Washington Post, Snyder has asked the NFL and its owners to indemnify him against any future legal issues if he sells the Commanders – a request that has reportedly infuriated owners, and could lead to Snyder’s ouster if he does not sell.

Here’s a deeper look at both reports and what they could mean for Snyder, the Commanders and a potential future sale.

What ESPN reported

Citing confidential documents and interviews, ESPN’s report provides new details on the split between Snyder and three of his former minority partners: Robert Rothman, Dwight Schar and Frederick Smith. The trio owned about 40% of the team between them before selling their stakes to Snyder in the spring of 2021, reportedly for $875 million.

After more digging, according to the ESPN report, the minority partners found that Snyder had used team funds for his own personal use, including ‘personal yachts’ and ‘multiple residences.’ They alleged that he also paid himself $10 million a year from team funds and arranged for the team to pay him $4.5 million to have its logo put on his personal jet – reportedly calling it ‘an advertising fee.’

ESPN reported that the minority partners took this information to the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell as part of an arbitration petition, and asked that Snyder be suspended or removed as owner. The dispute went to mediation. The minority partners sold their shares but felt ‘the league had no interest in finding out what happened,’ according to ESPN.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy confirmed that ‘the parties had a series of disputes’ that were mediated by a neutral arbitrator in a two-day session, during which the minority partners agree to sell their stake in the team to Snyder.

‘Everyone was represented by very sophisticated legal and financial advisors,’ McCarthy wrote in an email. ‘The agreement included full releases of all claims that were or could have been asserted by any party in the arbitration proceeding.’

The Commanders, meanwhile, disputed the ESPN report on a number of fronts. 

Outside lawyer John Brownlee said the Commanders have been cooperating with federal investigators, and that those investigators have only requested records that ‘relate to customer security deposits and the team’s ticket sales and revenue.’ A Commanders spokesperson said the team has been audited every year and is ‘completely transparent in sharing all financials with the league.’

What The Washington Post reported

On Monday night, The Washington Post reported that Snyder is asking the NFL and its owners to essentially protect him from future legal claims if he sells the team.

Owners view that request as ‘absurd’ and there is a belief Snyder should be the one committing to indemnify them from legal liability related to events within his organization, according to the newspaper.

The Commanders said in a statement that The Washington Post’s report ‘is simply untrue,’ though they did not specify how. The NFL declined to comment on the report.

The newspaper also reported that Snyder has asked the league to keep secret the findings of its investigation into him and the team, which is being led by attorney Mary Jo White.

The NFL has committed to publicly releasing the findings after declining to do so in a previous probe into the Commanders, led by Beth Wilkinson. The league has said it asked Wilkinson to not produce a written report due to confidentiality concerns, which critics have said are unfounded.

What it means

There’s a lot to unpack here, without question. And none of it is good for Snyder.

When taken together, these two reports paint Snyder as facing – and, in some instances, starting – battles on multiple fronts. He is reportedly drawing scrutiny from a league investigator and federal prosecutors, anger from NFL owners and very serious accusations from his former partners – all while soliciting bids for what would be a multi billion-dollar sale of the team he’s owned since 1999.

The reports also raise questions about the NFL’s role, both in managing Snyder and declining to investigate the allegations brought forward by the minority partners. And they suggest that the next few months, if not years, could get messy – should Snyder continue to deny and fight the allegations levied against him.

Contact Tom Schad at or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY