In the high-stakes world of the National Football League (NFL), the drama isn’t just on the field. The Washington Commanders are in the midst of what could be a potential delay in their transition to new ownership. The $6.05 billion deal, which would see owner Daniel Snyder handing over the reins to a group led by Josh Harris, is currently navigating through a maze of legal issues.
The main issue goes back to a 2021 scandal involving Jon Gruden, the former coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Gruden’s sudden resignation was triggered by a leak of emails containing offensive language. The fallout from this incident is now influencing the Commanders’ sale, with Snyder’s legal team reportedly seeking last-minute concessions from the NFL concerning legal indemnification related to Gruden’s lawsuit against the league.
NFL Denies Leaking Emails
Michele Snyder, a part-owner of the Commanders and Daniel Snyder’s sister, is reportedly hesitant to protect the other owners from legal liability in the Gruden case. In another twist, Daniel Snyder has reportedly pulled back on his willingness to sign an affidavit denying his involvement in the email leak that led to Gruden’s resignation.
The revelations in recent days about what Jeff Pash, Bruce Allen and others have said in private are both disrespectful and unacceptable in our sport, business and society and I have relayed my thoughts directly to the Commissioner with respect to this latest email release.— DeMaurice Smith (@demauricesmith) October 16, 2021
While the NFL has firmly denied leaking the emails, the controversy continues to bubble. The House Committee on Oversight and Accountability’s investigation into the Commanders’ workplace revealed that many of the emails had indeed been leaked.
Amid this legal tug-of-war, the NFL has been conducting a second investigation (since February 2022) into Snyder and his franchise, led by attorney Mary Jo White. Snyder, however, has declined to participate in the interview process.
Despite these challenges, the NFL owners are expected to approve Harris’s deal to buy the team from Snyder in the upcoming special league meeting. This approval, however, is dependent on the resolution of the issues with Snyder.
Bruce Allen testified that Dan Snyder sent emails to other owners lobbying to remove NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and Snyder once remarked he was going to have Goodell “followed” to “find something out about him.” pic.twitter.com/LyUzw07Cfk— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) December 8, 2022
Leaked Gruden Emails Beginning of the End for Snyder?
The drama started with a series of emails sent to the team account of Bruce Allen, Washington’s former team president. These emails, spanning approximately seven years, contained offensive language from Gruden during his time at ESPN. The leak led to Gruden’s resignation and a lawsuit against the NFL, in which Gruden accused the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell of using the emails to ruin his career.
As the legal issues continue to unfold, the future of the Washington Commanders hangs in the balance. The outcome of this saga will not only impact the team but could also set a precedent for future dealings in the NFL. In the world of professional sports, the off-field action can be just as gripping as the on-field drama.