In the hours before last year’s Super Bowl, a report emerged that other NFL owners believed the “time may have come” for Dan Snyder to sell the Washington Commanders. Now, as another season concludes, the embattled billionaire has shown he’s willing to entertain the idea — but he’s not out the door just yet.
After a slow trickle of updates over the past few weeks, rumors and developments regarding a possible Commanders’ sale were flying out of Super Bowl week — with the most significant being that prospective buyer Josh Harris, the co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils, toured Washington’s headquarters, according to multiple reports.
Harris and another unnamed potential new owner are the first prospective buyers reported to have visited the facility.
Snyder has yet to reach a deal to sell the Commanders — in part because he reportedly hasn’t received an offer that has met his asking price of at least $7 billion. Forbes has estimated the franchise’s value at $5.3 billion.
The New York Post also reported Friday that efforts to sell the Commanders “aren’t going well,” with one source telling the paper that there are only “two buyers” left. The New York Post’s report cast doubt that the interested buyers — including Harris — don’t have the capital to meet their bids of $6 billion. Other reports have indicated the highest offer that Snyder has received is $6.3 billion.
What if Snyder doesn’t get his preferred asking price? It’s complicated. The obvious answer is that the owner just holds onto the team. But that might not sit well with the NFL’s other owners who have reportedly pushed for Snyder to sell. The league has never formally ousted an owner, but Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay told reporters in October that Snyder’s removal merited “serious consideration” after several misconduct scandals.
No move, it seems, would be taken without the NFL first completing its latest investigation into Snyder, which is being conducted by former Securities and Exchange Commissioner chair Mary Jo White.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters Wednesday that there is no timeline for White’s probe to be completed, adding that the team’s sale was a “process.”
If the NFL moves to vote out Snyder, the league would need approval from 24 of its 32 owners.
Still, Fox Business reported this past week that the expectation is that Snyder will reach an agreement to sell the team sometime between the conclusion of Sunday’s Super Bowl and the league’s owners meetings that take place in late March — matching the timetable that has been floated all along.
The Athletic, which was the first to report Harris’ visit, noted that a formal round of “binding bids” is expected to take place within the next few weeks. Those will differ from the round that Bank of America, the investment bank leading the sale search, solicited in late December and could include penalties if a buyer withdraws an offer once submitted, the outlet added.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos looms in the background of all of this. The tech mogul is seen as someone who can swoop in late in the process and outbid all other suitors because of his vast personal wealth. But multiple outlets have cited sources that have wondered whether Bezos might prefer to wait for his hometown Seattle Seahawks to go up for sale rather than bid on the Commanders.
The New York Post, citing people close to Bezos, reported the billionaire is “much more focused on his rocket company” to put humans on the moon again by 2024. ‘These people add while he doesn’t mind his name being in the rumor mill, he has no intention of actually buying the team,” the paper’s Lydia Moynihan wrote.
In an interview with Fox Business Network, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Bezos would make a “great owner” if interested in the Commanders.
“I’m not really privy to who all the buyers are,” Kraft said. “I think Jeff is one of the most competent business people in the world. What he’s done, built a company like (Amazon) and built the scale and maintain quality, he’s definitely a tremendous operator.
“For those of us that are privileged enough to own NFL franchises, it’s the one thing I believe more than anything that builds community and we need good operating people in their individual towns.”
Elsewhere, interested parties have already appeared to explore what changes they could make if they’re able to buy the Commanders. In a revealing interview with SiriusXM, new Broncos coach Sean Payton said that prospective groups reached out to him to gauge his interest in coaching the Commanders upon buying the team.
“Everyone’s waiting to see what happens in Washington,” Payton said, later adding, “That’s a place that has had great tradition. … Listen, that place — my uncle loved the Washington franchise. (In 2021), we go there to play (with New Orleans), a third of the fans are Saints fans. And I’m like, ‘What happened to this place?’ That was one of the six pillars.
“That was a special place. It’ll come back.”
Snyder, in the meantime, holds on.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misreported Forbes’ estimated valuation of the Washington Commanders.