- - Monday, June 27, 2022

Dan Snyder has consumed the Washington football franchise. There is no team. No Commanders. We certainly know the Redskins don’t exist anymore. Snyder might as well have changed his organization’s name to the Washington Enrons.

The billionaire’s mug has become the face of his franchise, in the same way that the Edvard Munch mask has become the iconic face of the  slasher film series “Scream.”

I would say Snyder is larger than life, but the truth is he is lower, with seemingly no bottom.

It is all about Snyder now — last week’s congressional hearing on the allegations leveled against the franchise offered up nearly three hours of more embarrassing charges and salacious details. Meanwhile, the owner’s minions were photographed partying on a yacht docked in Cannes, France.

Snyder did not appear to be in the shot. Maybe he’s invisible to cameras and mirrors now?

Beyond what was discussed in the House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing, there were the documents released by the panel that showed despicable behavior, including the allegations by former Chief Operating Officer David Pauken. Pauken told the committee that Snyder, angry over a real estate deal, sought some petty revenge against future Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner by having Pauken pour sour milk on the carpet of the Lerner’s private suite at Ghost Town Field.

Snyder has been pouring sour milk on Washington fans since he bought the team in 1999.

But the most damning revelation was that Snyder conducted a “shadow investigation” while the NFL had Beth Wilkinson looking into sexual misconduct allegations against the organization and that Snyder compiled a “dossier” that targeted former employees, journalists and attorneys that he deemed enemies. 

According to the testimony, Snyder’s parallel “investigation” included the harassment and intimidation of women who would be questioned in the Wilkinson probe. Wilkinson’s probe began with the 15 women who spoke to the Washington Post, which initially broke the story about the misconduct allegations, and grew to more than 40 in a short amount of time.

Snyder and his hired sycophants have maintained that the focus of all this attention involved incidents that happened years ago. But the “shadow investigation” and the intimidation campaign, which included visits from private investigators, happened within the last two years — specifically, since Jan. 2, 2020, the day coach Ron Rivera was hired.

Rivera tried to wash the slime off by posting a tone-deaf statement a few hours after last week’s hearing, in an attempt to distance himself from the embarrassment of the day. “These investigations into inappropriate workplace issues pre-date my employment,” he wrote. 

Does that include the harassment campaign and “shadow investigation” that happened on Rivera’s watch?

What’s going to be his defense for that? That the most powerful person in the building besides Snyder didn’t know? 

There is no separation from the slime. Snyder is all-consuming. He has consumed the campaign for a new stadium, his presence poisoning plans.

It certainly torpedoed the lofty $1 billion Virginia stadium proposal. And while there was really no chance for a new stadium in the District, on the day of the House hearing, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson sent a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser outlining his support for getting the RFK property from the federal government — but only if it wasn’t used for a professional sports facility.

Last month, the Washington Post wrote an editorial opposing Virginia’s plans to subsidize a new stadium for the team. It argued against using public money to help a “multibillionaire” build a new stadium, but it also mentioned the fact that Snyder “is embroiled in investigations of sexual misconduct and financial improprieties.”

Less than three weeks later, the Post felt compelled to write yet another editorial opposing public funding for the stadium — this one directly targeting Snyder. “Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder has done an excellent job demonstrating why regional leaders should not use taxpayer funds to subsidize a new team stadium,” the editorial stated.

There hasn’t been an owner in this city who has been this toxic since George Preston Marshall, whose racist policies nearly kept his football team out of the new D.C. Stadium in 1961.

One of the most important duties of an NFL owner, in the eyes of the other billionaires in the club, is to secure the funding and support for new stadiums. 

Washington should be one of the league’s marquee franchises, one of its most powerful lobbying tools on Capitol Hill. Other owners want members of Congress coming to the Washington franchise’s building, taking seats there and watching the NFL in action — not the other way around. 

The league and fellow owners are losing money with Snyder as the owner of this football team.

Snyder’s lawyer told the House committee that the boss is out of the country and unavailable for questioning this week, so it remains to be seen how the plan to subpoena Snyder will play out. His refusal to appear last week — even via Zoom as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did — made his absence loom large. 

He dwarfs everything associated with this football team. He is a black hole, consuming an NFL franchise whole. Nothing can escape.

You can hear Thom Loverro regularly on The Kevin Sheehan Show podcast.

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

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