Today’s brief interlude in the World Of Danny Snyder is about the estimated $950 million he’s spending to buy out the shares of his fractious and litigious minority investors in the Washington Amalgamation Of Mesomorphic Footballing Humans.
It’s also about the mechanics of making it happen—the $450 million debt waiver he asked for and received from his brethren and sistren in the National Football League’s owners’ club, and how the vote to approve the deal is being sped up to this coming week, and how this may or may not affect the league’s investigation into the various accusations of sexual harassment within the team’s hierarchy, and just how much it was worth to Snyder to gather/borrow the money to make the insurrection go away whether or not he ever decides to sell the franchise.
That’s a ridiculous 97 words without so much as a semicolon to encapsulate what we are learning from this deal, starting with how desperately the NFL’s other 31 landlords want the whole sulfurous matter to go away, and to what lengths they will go to help the 32nd of them do so. This shouldn’t be a surprise of any kind since the first responsibility of any system is to defend the system, and Snyder is very much a part of that system. It is why the rules about debt service limits are merely suggestions, and why nothing is easier for a rich person to do than to get more money. As a billionaire, Snyder could pay the entire $950 million out of petty cash and still have $1.65 billion in net worth—that is, if he were an idiot about money, which it is safe to assume he is not. You don’t get to be or stay a billionaire by spending your own money. That’s why God made debt service in the first place. A billionaire who can’t raise money in a hurry is only a future non-billionaire.
The second component here is how quickly the 31 other members of the High Council Of Magnates decided to Zoom-track the vote to approve or, far less likely, reject the deal. Sure, FedEx Fred Smith, one of the minority owners being bought out (with Robert Rothman and Dwight Schar), is worth $3.9 billion, or $1.3 billion more than Snyder (all net worth evaluations fluctuate, but these are informed specuguesses), but the league’s owners are worth roughly $147 billion among them, which means that not even Seattle Seahawks chief executive empress Jody Allen, the head of the Paul Allen Trust ($20.3B) can move the others without leading the others. The NFL is Strength In Portfolios, and its bosses would like not to invite any of their own minority owners to get any bright ideas about storming their individual Kremlins.
The third tentacle in this moneyed cephalopod is the NFL’s investigation, which we can safely assume will result in some sort of community-service-over-steaks punishment if there is any at all. Now, if the owners reject the Snyder deal because they’re not done evaluating the evidence of the women who complained about their treatment, sirens will sound and the hounds will be released, but the likelihood of that happening is the likelihood of you swallowing an echidna without needing a tracheotomy. We mention that only in case you thought the league investigation was going to skew toward the complainants, you naive delights.
And finally, there is the matter of why Snyder decided to take on debt to rid himself of his turbulent priests (h/t Henry II, unless it was someone else). The answers are easy to discern:
1. Snyder likes owning a football team.
2. Snyder does not like being told what to do, ever.
3. Even if the answer to (1) changes, his team and all the others are about to undergo another dramatic lurch forward in value with the ridiculous new media contracts obtained by Roger Goodell and his negotiator/bludgeoners, so whatever money Snyder had to assemble to extract his leg from the bear trap of partnership litigation is going to magically reassemble itself and then some by the time Kurt Badenhausen gets off his ass and updates the Forbes Business Of Football valuations for 2021. In other words, that $950 million is going to reappear the moment Snyder decides he’d rather own, say, Belgium.
It takes a lot of outsized pressure to remove a billionaire from something he or she does not wish to be removed from, and even the example we have, Donald Sterling in 2014, happened only because a direct line could be drawn by the other NBA owners from him to potential money lost. That, and Steve Ballmer was jumping up and down on his roof wearing only a Trail Blazers hoodie and footie pajamas waving a sign that read, “I can pay full price, in cash, TODAY.”
Snyder will profit handsomely from this brief outlay of cash to people he does not like. The rest of his league partners will approve, and whatever dreams of results-oriented or conscience-fueled regime change you might have had will be dashed. The status remains very quo indeed, as you should have suspected it would.