Dan Snyder’s hands-on approach has been one of the most unmistakable characteristics of his tenure as an NFL owner, so when the league talked last year about the billionaire ceding control of daily operations to his wife for “several months” upon the conclusion of its investigation into the team’s workplace misconduct, there was skepticism
And when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Florida that the billionaire would not be involved in day-to-day business of the Washington Commanders for the “foreseeable future,” there was incredulity, especially among those who follow the team closely.
And for good reason, it turns out: Despite what the commissioner told reporters, Snyder’s back and calling the shots in Ashburn.
The owner, according to a highly-placed source familiar with the team’s situation, has resumed his day-to-day role with the Commanders.
The source, who spoke to The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity in order to speak freely, said Snyder has no restrictions on what he can and can’t do in overseeing the franchise, reiterating the owner has worked on day-to-day matters. For instance, Snyder was “heavily involved” when the team discussed acquiring quarterback Carson Wentz — something coach Ron Rivera even alluded to after the trade was finalized.
“One of the things I really do appreciate was in talking to the Snyders and really them just saying, ‘Hey, if this is what it’s going to take, let’s get it done,’” Rivera said this month when asked about the team’s decision to take on Wentz’s $28.3 million cap hit.
Last July, the league said Snyder would be voluntarily giving up day-to-day control of the franchise for “several months” when it unveiled the findings of Beth Wilkinson’s investigation of the team’s sexual misconduct scandal. The NFL fined the team $10 million after more than 40 women said they were sexually harassed while working for the club.
Tanya Snyder was elevated to co-CEO and was charged with running the team in her husband’s absence.
Dan Snyder, the league said, would still oversee long-term projects like the Commanders’ pursuit of a new stadium, while Tanya Snyder would represent the club at league meetings.
This week, Tanya Snyder was among the small contingent that Washington sent to Florida to represent the team. Prior to Goodell’s press conference, another source familiar with the situation said Dan Snyder was not there because he was out of the country on business.
The league did not respond Wednesday to questions from The Washington Times about whether Dan Snyder’s return to the team represents a violation of the league’s or Goodell’s position or limits on the extent of the owner’s involvement.
After handing over day-to-day control last summer, the owner had turned his attention toward new stadium negotiations, the source told The Times. But as months went by, the person added, Snyder gradually became more involved even as the stadium project has continued to take up more of his time and focus.
Rivera has mentioned periodically that he still talks to Snyder about issues regarding the team. The coach told The Team 980 in January that he met with the Snyders for an end-of-the-season meeting. And in October, on the same station, Rivera even mentioned chatting with Dan Snyder in the team’s facility.
The latter contradicts Goodell’s remark to reporters as the commissioner said he “didn’t believe” Snyder had been at the team’s headquarters since Tanya Snyder became co-CEO.
“It’s always good to talk with Mr. Snyder,” Rivera said. “We just visit and chat about what’s happening, so it’s been real positive.”
“How often do you talk to him?” the host replied.
“Probably about once or twice per week, just depending on the situation and circumstances,” Rivera said, “if we run into each other around the facility or at the game or at the stadium or something like that. Or I’ll call, he’ll call. You know, we’ll talk.”
Dan Snyder was seen at Washington’s games last season. He also made brief public remarks last month when the team unveiled its rebrand to the Commanders. Dan Snyder was not in attendance, however, for Wentz’s introductory press conference earlier this month, while his wife was.
Wentz’s presser came weeks after the NFL opened a new investigation into the owner. Tiffani Johnston, a former employee and cheerleader, told members of Congress that Dan Snyder inappropriately touched her thigh at a work dinner and later tried to coax her into his limo — leading the NFL to hire former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to look into the matter. Johnston did not participate in the league’s first investigation. Snyder denied the accusations.
With a source claiming that Snyder is still involved in day-to-day operations, this is not the first time that the league and the Commanders have clashed publicly. Before the league launched its new investigation, Washington put out a statement that it was conducting its own probe — causing the NFL to interject just hours after the announcement. Goodell told reporters he could not “see any way” a team could investigate itself.
The NFL, in a letter to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, also blamed the Commanders for blocking access to requested documents related to the congressional probe in February — a week after Johnston’s claim surfaced.
• Matthew Paras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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