“I suppose we’re going to have more and more discussion about that,” Irsay said on Tuesday. “It is a difficult situation. I think there is an advantage to removing him as the owner of [Commanders]. I think it’s something we should review. We have to look at all the evidence, and we have to be meticulous going forward. But I think it’s something that should be taken seriously.”
Irsay spoke about the issue for nearly 15 minutes in front of a large group of reporters in a hotel whose owners were holding a one-day quarterly meeting. There was no vote on the ownership of Snyder, which was taken away by the owners on Tuesday. It would take a vote of at least 24 of the other 31 owners to remove Snyder. Tanya Snyder represented the leaders at the meeting.
“That’s not what we defend in the NFL,” Ersay said. “And I think Angels have been drawn incorrectly a lot of times by different people and in different situations. And that’s not what we’re about. … There’s a lot of affinity in this league. And I don’t think some of the things I’ve heard don’t represent us at all. And I want the American public and the world to know what we’re up to as owners.”
The league and the owners are awaiting the results of an NFL-mandated investigation of Snyder and the leaders, which is being conducted by attorney Mary Jo White.
“It is highly inappropriate, but not surprising, that Mr. Irsai chose to make public statements based on lies in the media,” a spokesman for the leaders said. “It is unfortunate that Mr. Ersay decided to make his statement public today, while an investigation is underway, and the team has not had the opportunity to formally respond to the allegations. Leaders have made remarkable progress over the past two years. We are confident that when he has the opportunity to see the actual evidence in this case, Mr. Irsay will conclude that there is no reason for Snyders to consider selling the franchise. Nor will they.”
As the meeting wrapped up Tuesday night, Snyder sent an email to the other owners, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Snyder wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Post, and which was signed only by him. “Having the privilege of owning a franchise in American sports is something I know none of us take for granted. The lies and lies that are being spread about any of our organizations harm our league, our players, and our fans, and we simply cannot allow them to go unchallenged.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the owners were briefed on the progress of White’s investigation during Tuesday’s meeting.
“It’s an ongoing investigation,” Goodell said. “That’s what we talked about. … When Mary Jo White finishes her investigation, we still share that with the members and share it publicly, like we committed before. And I was very clear with [the owners that] There is no reason for any speculation at this point in time or discussion until we have the facts. And so that was my message to the property. And there was little or no discussion.”
The House Oversight and Reform Committee is investigating where the team works and could issue a final report in the coming weeks. Racine (Diam), the Washington, D.C. attorney general, has nearly completed his own investigation into the leaders and Schneider and plans to take further action in the case, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
NFL owners’ attitudes toward captain Daniel Snyder hardened
Irsay has become the first NFL owner to say publicly that owners should consider removing Snyder.
“I think it’s in the best interest of the NFL that we look at it head on and deal with it,” Irsay said. “I think America, the world, expects us, as leaders.”
Goodell said he was neither surprised nor disappointed by Irsay’s comments.
“I just said and I said it to members: Guessing without facts is not very positive,” Goodell said at a press conference after the meeting concluded. “I think everyone deserves to have the facts and make sure those decisions are made with the facts. Membership will have that opportunity.”
Goodell declined to provide a timeline for completing White’s investigation.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was followed outside the hotel lobby by a crowd of reporters after Tuesday’s meeting ended. Jones refused to answer most of the questions put to him regarding Snyder. When asked what other owners think of Snyder, Jones said, “I haven’t spoken to them.”
Outside the hotel, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft sent similar questions as he waited for his flight. “You have to ask them,” Kraft said of his fellow Snyder owners’ opinions.
Several owners told The Post last month that they thought they could seriously consider trying to oust Snyder from the league’s ownership ranks, either by persuading him to sell his franchise or by voting to remove him.
“It needs to be sold,” one of those owners said at the time. “Some of us need to go to him and tell him he needs to sell.”
If Snyder is not persuaded to do so willingly, the NFL rules require the owners to vote to force him to sell.
“I think there will be movement,” the same owner said last month. “We need to get 24 votes.”
Asked Tuesday if he thought 24 owners would vote to remove Snyder, Irsay said: “I think it probably will be there. But we’ll see.”
Irsay said he might expect a vote at the league’s annual meeting in March. Before that, there is a regularly scheduled owners meeting in December.
“I said it was under consideration, serious study,” Ersay said. But I want to see the full investigation ahead of us and see exactly what’s going on, including potential financial irregularities. I don’t know if this exists. But that’s another element we have to see.”
The NFL launched the White investigation after Tiffany Johnston, a former cheerleader and the team’s marketing director, said at a February congressional roundtable that Snyder harassed her at the team dinner, put his hand on her thigh and pressed her toward a limousine. Snyder denied the accusations, calling them “blatant lies.”
In June, The Post reported details of an employee’s claim that Snyder sexually assaulted her during a flight on his private jet in April 2009. Later that year, the team agreed to pay the employee, who fired him, in a confidential settlement $1.6 million. In a 2020 court filing, Snyder called the woman’s allegations “without merit.”
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Ersay said. “It hurts me. … The founders of this league taught me that you have to protect the game and protect what we are about. That is not what we are about.”
Irsay rejected speculation in a report published by ESPN that Snyder may have used private investigators to gather information on Goodell and the owners to try to deter any attempt to remove him.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Ersay said. “I could care less. You can investigate me until the cows come home. That won’t back out on me, the private detectives or any of that stuff. For me, I just shrugged it off. I don’t care. I don’t know about any of that stuff. I just focus on the case [of] What happened in Washington? And for me, that’s very worrying.”
Snyder wrote in a letter Tuesday to the owners that the ESPN report “contains false and malicious data” about the team and its family. Snyder described the claim that team leader Jason Wright lacked the power to effect fundamental change within the organization as “particularly shameful.” He denied hiring private investigators to obtain malicious information on the owners and Goodell.
“This is a clear mistake and aims to erode the trust and goodwill among the owners that I take very seriously,” Snyder wrote.
In April, the House committee detailed allegations of financial wrongdoing by Snyder and the team in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. Racine and Virginia’s Republican attorney general, Jason S. Millais, announced that they would investigate. The team denied any financial wrongdoing.
Goodell said there was “no change” to Snyder’s ownership status. The league announced in July 2021, following an earlier investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson, that the team had been fined $10 million and that Tanya Snyder, Daniel’s wife and co-CEO of the franchise, would take over control of the team’s day-to-day operations. for an indefinite period. His attorneys said last week that Daniel Snyder is “no longer subject to any restrictions from the NFL” regarding his participation in the day-to-day operations of the franchise.
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