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SnyderWatch: Dan Snyder Comes One Big Step Closer To Selling The Commanders

A photo with added illustration of Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder, with his tongue sticking waaaaay out to the side. As in, it almost reaches his jacket collar.
Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images, illustration by Defector Media

Are you sitting down? As first reported by Sportico and then confirmed by multiple outlets, there is a tentative agreement in place today for Washington Commanders owner and general nightmare human Dan Snyder to sell his beleaguered, mostly ruined football team to an investor group led by Philadelphia 76ers owner and private equity vampire Josh Harris. The Harris group, which includes billionaire investor Mitchell Rales and Magic Johnson, has agreed to pay Snyder approximately $6 billion for North America's most dysfunctional professional sports franchise, making this potentially the most expensive deal of its kind in the history of the continent.

Please hold off on doing that upsetting gyrating celebration dance until I have finished this blog and ended all associations between us. For one thing, two people "with direct knowledge of the sale process" cautioned the Washington Post that the deal is "not yet final," and that even once it is finalized between the parties it would need to be ratified by the NFL's other owners. This would seem to be a slam dunk, as none of Snyder's peers can stand him at all, but still unanswered is the question of how the NFL will resolve the very unreasonable demands Snyder reportedly issued over the winter, and upon which the sale of the franchise was said to be contingent. The Post reported in February that Snyder would refuse to complete the sale of his team unless the NFL agreed to indemnify him against future legal liability associated with his two decades of disastrous stewardship of the Commanders franchise, a demand that other owners reportedly regarded as "ridiculous" and "absurd."

This would be no small matter: ESPN reported in February that Snyder's former business partners in Washington accused him of falsifying information used to secure a $55 million line of credit, along with a whole host of improper self-dealing transactions with the team. Relatedly, the Commanders recently reached a settlement with the D.C. Attorney General to pay a $425,000 fine to the city and refund hundreds of thousands of dollars in fan deposits the team is accused of improperly withholding. This was at least the second charge of this sort that the Commanders have settled over the past six months. The corruption is everywhere you look with this fucking team; owners would have very good reason to resist indemnifying this jerk against the consequences of his own flagrant mismanagement. Snyder, meanwhile, reportedly threatened that any refusal to meet this demand would trigger a lawsuit. You can see how this might still become very messy before it is over.

For another thing, there is always the possibility that Snyder will randomly explode this deal, out of spite or stupidity or just his normal reflexive impulse to cultivate fresh enemies. Snyder's ownership group paid $800 million for the Commanders way back in 1999 (CORRECTION: This initially said $800,000, because I am evidently incapable of counting zeroes), mostly of borrowed money, and in the decades since he has squeezed it for everything it's worth, including billing the team $4.5 million to paint a logo on his own private airplane. This deal would make him cash-rich beyond even his own wildest dreams, but that does not mean he won't find some reason or way to sabotage it, and cast Washington sports fans into another indefinite period of hoping he will one day walk under a falling piano. Dance exactly zero jigs before such time as Harris is officially handed control of the Commanders, by drinking warm orphan blood from the opened skull of a nun, or however it is that NFL owners formally welcome another ghoul into their midst.

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