- The Washington Times
Wednesday, March 31, 2021

NFL owners on Wednesday unanimously approved Dan Snyder’s plan to spend $875 million to buy out three minority partners in the franchise, including a $450 million loan from the league to help the Washington owner re-acquire the 40.5% stake.

The deal, according to multiple reports, is expected to be finalized by the end of the week. The move will give the embattled Maryland-based billionaire more control over the franchise he bought in 1999. Snyder and his family would again own 100% of the team after buying out FedEx CEO Fred Smith, investor Robert Rothman and developer Dwight Schar.

Snyder’s loan from the NFL reportedly must be paid back by March 2028.

The approval comes as Snyder and his organization are being investigated by the NFL for workplace misconduct — with more than 40 women claiming they were sexually harassed while working for the team. 

Snyder’s plan to buy out his partners met some resistance from the Time’s Up Foundation, a women’s group that argued the Washington owner should not be financially rewarded while the league conducts its ongoing investigation. But that outcry didn’t stop all 32 teams from voting yes on the deal.

A league spokesman said last week that it considers the sale and the investigation to be “two separate matters.” Commissioner Roger Goodell said last month that Washington-based attorney Beth Wilkinson, who is investigating the allegations of workplace misconduct in Ashburn for the league, was close to completing her work, but after news broke of the Snyder deal, lawyers representing the women in the sexual harassment case ripped the NFL commissioner.

“Today’s actions … give everyone great concern that [Goodell’s] past statements characterizing the conduct of the organization as “abhorrent” were just hollow and meaningless words,” wrote attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks in a statement.

According to ESPN, once Snyder’s buyback goes through, the 56-year-old can resell the minority stakes in the team if he wants, but any proceeds from a subsequent deal would have to go to repaying the $450 million debt. 

As part of the agreement, Snyder and the partners will drop any disputes. Before reaching an agreement, the two sides were embroiled in an ugly legal battle. 

Snyder accused the partners of running a misinformation campaign against him in an attempt to force him to sell the team. The partners, meanwhile, took Snyder to court for blocking a $900 million sale to a California-based investment group.

But Snyder and the partners reached an agreement several months after a federal judge ruled in December that their dispute must be settled by an NFL arbitrator. 

Smith, Rothman and Schar originally bought into Washington in 2003. However, the partners banded together last year and hired a Baltimore-based banking firm to explore the sale of their shares.

The partners were reportedly upset that Snyder failed to pay annual financial dividends to them amid the pandemic, a move that was also enacted by other owners.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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