- - Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Just how slimy are these NFL owners?

Here they have an opportunity to get out of the Dan Snyder business — to wash their hands of the shameful Washington Football Team owner, to banish him from their insular clan of billionaires. And for good reasons, no less, reasons that go well beyond the despicable behavior toward women endorsed and embraced by the organization under his ownership.

The league’s owners could rid themselves of a colleague who has taken a once-premier franchise in the nation’s capital and reduced it to a shell of what it was.

Pulling the plug on football’s Snyder era could be chalked up to doing the right thing. Basic decency. How about we just call it good business? Take your pick.

For those who operate in a world where these things matter, the chance to not have to share a boardroom with Snyder would be a blessing.

Instead, it appears NFL owners are ready to give Snyder a bigger, more comfortable chair to sit in while they count their money.

If what stops NFL owners from forcing out Snyder is simply a case of there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go I, I can only imagine what these billionaires see when they look at their reflections in the mirror.

If they see Snyder, well, the rich are different than you and I.

The New York Times reported that Snyder’s fellow owners changed the rules for Snyder so he can buy out his disgruntled minority partners and assume total control of the Washington Football Team.

In other words, Snyder appears to be on the verge of being more powerful and secure than ever.

The Times reported that his fellow owners are likely to approve a waiver that would let Snyder take out an additional $450 million in debt so he can buy out the minority owners — FedEx owner Fred Smith, developer Dwight Schar and investor Robert Rothman — for $900 million.

This means that whatever campaign any of these men may have undertaken to shake up what had likely been a lackluster market for their minority shares, it worked. It may have been messy, with lawsuits internationally, but in the end, everyone gets what they want — the minority owners get their money and Snyder is not forced to take on minority partners he may not be comfortable with — unless he recoils at the possibility of doing business with himself. Most decent, intelligent people would.

And, as for the Beth Wilkinson-led investigation into the allegations of sexual harassment, originally detailed by 40-plus women in a series of Washington Post articles, well don’t hold your breath.

The Times believes that probe will become an afterthought.

“The arrangement effectively resolves two pressing issues: a protracted boardroom fight over ownership that spilled out into the open and an investigation by the NFL into allegations that women who worked for the team were sexually harassed by staff members, a number of whom have already been dismissed.”

See? Done and done.

“Now, with the investigation into his and other team employees’ conduct wrapping up and the conclusion of his boardroom battle in sight, Snyder can focus on another major task: deciding how to rebrand the football team whose future is entirely under his control.”

You think the timing of team president Jason Wright’s ESPN interview Tuesday dropping the news that the name “Washington Football Team” could wind up the franchise’s permanent nickname the day before this news was leaked to the Times was all coincidence? Rebrand, baby.

Transparency? Try obscurity.

The Times suggested that Snyder will pay a fine for any transgressions dug up by Wilkinson. At least then we will know the value NFL owners place on women in the workplace.

Unless NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has some diabolical plan in play that somehow allows Snyder — whose 22-year tenure as owner has been marked by failure and frustration, a diminishing fan base, low television ratings and sporadic home crowds — to gain total control of the team, only to somehow then be forced to sell it, this is it. 

This was the last shot long-suffering Washington football fans had to get rid of their hated owner.

He’s not going anywhere. Fire up the yacht. Pass out the cigars.

Hear Thom Loverro on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.

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