- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2023

PHOENIX — Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said Monday that May could be too soon of a date to finalize the potential sale of the Washington Commanders, suggesting that a resolution could more realistically come by October. 

Irsay spoke to reporters after a privileged session between owners. After becoming the first owner to publicly call for Dan Snyder’s removal last fall, Irsay said that he wasn’t confident a Commanders sale would be wrapped up in just a few months. 

After this week, the owners are scheduled to gather again for another set of meetings May 22-24 in Minneapolis. 

“I would think May would reveal some (details), but certainly by October, we would expect to really have some movement on all issues,” Irsay said, later adding, “May is pretty close to now. These things take a little time, but I think certainly a lot more could be known by May. And you hope that a couple months, there’s some real progress and you know a lot more.

“But right now, it’s hard to know exactly how close we could be in May with being presented with a buyer and a sale.”

Irsay said if the NFL presents a prospective buyer for the Commanders to the owners, then there would likely be a quick turnaround. “Once there’s a vote, it’s not going to take too long,” Irsay said. 

But he added there’s “diligent work” to be done behind the scenes before that buyer is presented to owners, noting it could be an additional month after that buyer is announced to get clearance. 

“I don’t know if that can happen by May, but it’s possible,” Irsay said. “Hopefully.” 

There have been at least three potential candidates believed to have submitted a bid to buy the Commanders from Snyder: Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has also repeatedly been linked to the team, though he has yet to submit a bid. 

The Commanders have been on the market since at least November, when the team announced that Snyder hired an investment bank to explore “potential transactions,” which include a full sale of the team. 

Irsay said the information to other owners about Washington’s sale process has been “very little to none.” He said owners have yet to be formally informed about the potential transaction, or the ongoing investigation into Snyder that is being conducted by investigator Mary Jo White.

Though Snyder has not been on the official agenda, he’s been a frequent topic of conversation this week at the league’s meetings. Before Irsay spoke with reporters, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Patriots owner Robert Kraft each weighed in on the Commanders’ sale in their respective media sessions. 

Jones said that there would be no resolution regarding Washington at this week’s meetings — which conclude Tuesday — while Kraft said he believes a sale is “something that is close to happening,” but that he didn’t know for sure. 

A source with knowledge of the situation said that Snyder has also refused to cooperate in White’s probe, which has delayed the completion of her investigation into the embattled billionaire and the team. White is reportedly expected to make at least one more attempt to speak with Snyder.

Depending on the findings, White’s probe could be used as a basis to oust Snyder from the NFL, legal analysts said earlier this month. But speaking to reporters Monday, Irsay said he hopes the situation doesn’t come to that. He said that Snyder voluntarily selling would still be the best outcome for all involved.

“That’s in the constitution for a reason, but you never hope to get down those trails,” Irsay said, referring to a clause in the NFL’s bylaws that gives the commissioner power to oust an owner from the league with 24 votes from fellow owners. 

Irsay, though, said that owners won’t stand by Snyder’s reported ask for indemnification. The Washington Post reported last month that the Washington owner is seeking his fellow owners to indemnify him against future legal liability. The Commanders denied the story in a statement, but Irsay made clear the issue was a non-starter for the league.

“We’re going to do what we’ve always done, with deals like Denver or Carolina,” Irsay said. “It’s going to be fair and equal treatment. … There would be no reason for us to be giving any sort of unusual indemnification that the Waltons and Bowlen family didn’t have (for the sale of the Broncos.)”

Irsay said that Tanya Snyder — Dan’s wife and Washington’s co-CEO — did not address owners in the privileged session to his knowledge, telling reporters he wasn’t there for the whole meeting. 

Asked if he was looking forward to a new owner in Washington, Irsay said his issues with Snyder aren’t personal — but said “you’re always hoping” for great ownership.  

He said he was looking forward to a conclusion. 

“Remember, this isn’t just any franchise,” Irsay said. “This is right there in Washington D.C., the power lane of the world — not just the country, the world. … The Redskins — I mean Commanders — we just hope for great success going forward. 

“This is a very unique opportunity in terms of team ownership. All teams are very, very valuable, and all those sorts of things, but there are a few like this for the reasons that are obvious.” 

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

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