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Monday, May 20, 2024

Jeff Bezos Linked to Washington Football Team Sales Talk

  • Bezos' attorney talked with firm leading the sale for part of the franchise, per court records.
  • The Amazon founder reportedly has had interest in owning an NFL team.

Jeff Bezos has been interested in NFL team ownership for some time — and The Washington Football team could be on his private wish list.

Bezos’ attorney spoke with Baltimore-based sports investment banking firm Moag & Co., which led the effort to sell a chunk of the team, according to court documents obtained by Front Office Sports. 

Front Office Sports previously reported on majority owner Dan Snyder’s claims that the real estate exec Dwight Schar — one of the three minority shareholders — led “an extortion campaign” to force Snyder to sell his stake. 

On Monday morning, a filing that mentions Bezos’ attorney was made in a New Delhi courtroom. It was part of Snyder’s defamation lawsuit, originally filed in August, against Indian media company MEA WorldWide. 

In that lawsuit, Snyder’s attorneys claimed that MEA WorldWide published a string of false stories and social media posts erroneously stating Snyder had ties to sex trafficking and was close to sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein. 

Snyder’s lawyers wrote that John Moag, the founder of Moag & Co., had advance knowledge of MEA WorldWide’s “corrupt disinformation campaign by, among other things, spreading malicious lies” about Snyder. 

“Keep an eye on the Redskins, it’s getting very interesting,” Moag texted a person on July 3, 2020. Their name was redacted in a screen capture attached to the filing. 

“Hopefully Snyder’s going,” the person responded. 

The alleged misinformation campaign began on July 16, the same day The Washington Post published the first of two lengthy stories on allegations of workplace harassment by former and current women employees of The Washington Football Team. 

Moag was hired by the team’s three minority owners to explore a sale of their shares in the team. Two California billionaires, Behdad Eghbali and Jose Feliciano, offered to purchase the minority stake of about 40%, The Washington Post reported. 

Snyder used his right of first refusal to block Schar from selling his stake. The co-owners — who also include FedEx chief executive Fred Smith and investor Robert Rothman — sued Snyder for holding up the sale. That litigation that is pending in federal court. 

A federal magistrate in Maryland issued subpoenas to Moag and his firm for text, e-mail and other records over the MEA WorldWide case. The information gained as part of discovery was referenced in the latest filing in India. 

Moag in the past has denied being part of, or having any knowledge of, the alleged misinformation campaign. Messages left with Moag and his attorney, Joe R. Reeder, by Front Office Sports were not returned. The 18-page filing in India also stated Moag exchanged 87 phone calls with former Washington Football Team President Bruce Allen. The two talked more than 22 hours total. Moag and Allen also exchanged text and email messages that “prove” the two were “focused on negative publicity directed at [Snyder],” according to the filing. 

Allen was fired as president of The Washington Football Team in December 2019, which ended his decade-long run as an executive at the franchise his late father, George, coached in the 1970s. Moag and Allen have been friends for more than two decades and the relationship can be traced back to when Allen was an executive with the Raiders, a person with knowledge of the friendship told Front Office Sports. Moag was as an expert witness on behalf of the Raiders as part of a 1997 lawsuit the team filed against the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum over personal seat licenses, according to court records.

Bezos, 57, announced on Feb. 2 that he would step down as Amazon’s CEO by the end of 2021. In the past several years he’s developed a wider footprint in and around the nation’s capital: In 2013 he purchased The Washington Post, and in 2017 he tapped Arlington, Va., as the location for Amazon’s second headquarters. 

A message left with The Washington Post by Front Office Sports on Monday was not immediately returned. Messages left with Paul Dauber, one of Bezos’ longtime lawyers, were also not returned. 

Bezos purchased a 27,000-square-foot mansion in Washington in 2016 and spent $12 million to renovate the residence. CBS Sports reported in November 2019 that Bezos spent time with Snyder since his move to Washington, and that other NFL owners were more than willing to welcome the mogul into their ranks. 

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