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The Washington Football Team’s Intra-Owner Fight Is Such A Disaster That All Of Them Are Going To Get Richer

Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

I clicked on yesterday’s big New York Times article about the ugly ongoing mud-fight between Dan Snyder and the Washington Football Team’s minority owners hoping for fun, juicy schadenfreude. What I got was a depressing reminder that there is basically no meaningful sense in which rich assholes can ever actually lose anything, no matter how malignant or incompetent they may be.

Snyder, one of the absolute worst people alive, has been at more-or-less open war since at least the spring with a coalition of three minority owners who own around 40 percent of the franchise between them. At issue are Snyder’s chronic mismanagement of the team and its endlessly toxic front office, and his consolidation of power over the franchise’s board. The minority owners reportedly want either for Snyder to sell his controlling share of the team, which would not only rid a still-insanely-valuable franchise of one of the worst owners in all of sports but enrich all of them extravagantly, or for him to drop his resistance to their efforts at selling their shares, which would also enrich them extravagantly.

Snyder’s claim, in court filings, is that they’ve attempted to pressure him into complying by leaking damaging stuff to the press, in hopes of forcing a sale via scandal—if not an out-and-out repeat of the end of Donald Sterling’s ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, when the NBA forced him out as, in Dan Le Batard’s phrasing, “a kind of a Lifetime Achievement Award for Racism.” As the Times story details, one of the team’s minority owners, a real estate developer named Dwight Schar, appears to have facilitated a clandestine information pipeline between Snyder’s longtime personal assistant and reporters at the Washington Post:

Key to the scheme, court filings show, was Mary Ellen Blair. She was an executive assistant to him until 2017 who, at the behest of Schar, helped pass negative information about Snyder to the news media. Between July and October, Blair and Schar spoke 157 times on the phone, for a combined 11.6 hours, according to phone records obtained by Snyder’s lawyers and filed in court.

During that same period, Blair dialed or received 123 calls from telephone numbers associated with The Washington Post, according to court filings. There were text messages, too, Snyder said. “Call me ASAP Mr Schar just called me great news for u call me ASAP please,” she wrote in one of several texts to a journalist at The Post who contributed to a blockbuster article in which 15 female former team employees revealed rampant, longstanding harassment of women employees. (“The idea is to force Snyder to sell,” Blair texted to a friend.)

Snyder, for his part, used a nuisance defamation lawsuit against an obscure content mill owned by the Indian media company Media Arts Entertainment WorldWide as a backdoor to get ahold of Schar’s phone records and prove the existence of that information pipeline. (Among other things, this is an evolution of the playbook he ran when he tried to destroy Defector’s own Dave McKenna and the Washington City Paper back at the start of the last decade.)

Here’s where it becomes clear that there won’t be consequences for those who deserve them: Snyder and the minority owners are now, according to the Times, in negotiations for the latter to sell their shares to the former, consolidating his ownership of the franchise. Even at a valuation of their shares reportedly 40 percent lower than the $1.5 billion they claimed in a letter to Snyder’s banker back in June—a penalty for Schar’s efforts to undermine Snyder—this eventual deal will pay off extravagantly for all of these people. The minority owners bought their shares in 2003, when the club in its entirety was valued at $1.5 billion; even after 16 further years of Snyder blasting away at his own dick with a Gatling gun, Forbes valued the franchise at $3.4 billion in 2019.

They will get much richer. Snyder will get uncontested control of what’s still one of the most valuable franchises in the richest sports league in North America—even after he human-trafficked the team’s cheerleaders and tried to pimp them out to his friends, presided over a culture of sexual harassment and abuse for years on end, stuck by the racist name and logo as they grew more and more radioactive and dumped them only when pressured by sponsors, and let them play as the generic Washington Football Team because despite decades of protests and public scorn he had no organizational plan for a new name and logo. For the hell of it, add in the comparatively small-potatoes fact that it’s been a hysterically embarrassing on-field product staged in front of opposing teams’ jeering fans in a half-empty stadium for a decade. None of that will matter. Degrees of failure literally inaccessible to the average person will pay off for Snyder more lucratively, a million times over, than the average person’s wildest success.