Jeff Bezos’ expected Washington Commanders bid likely wouldn’t be perceived as a conflict of interest despite Amazon being an NFL TV and technology partner.
Bezos stepped down as Amazon’s CEO in July 2021, although he remains executive chairman of the e-commerce giant that is in the first season of an 11-year deal as the exclusive home of “Thursday Night Football.”
But Bezos’ ties to the company he founded — especially given his wealth and connections — can be worked around.
“There are a lot of ways that they can protect against conflict interest concerns without banning somebody like Jeff Bezos together,” said Jodi S. Balsam, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who worked as an NFL attorney for several years. “I think he’s clearly a desirable owner. He’s certainly more desirable than Dan Snyder. I mean, they probably would take almost anybody else at this point.
“[Bezos] brings his business experience and a perspective that complements the current ownership in a lot of constructive ways.”
An NFL spokesperson did not return a request for comment.
Bezos is also the world’s fourth-richest man with an estimated net worth of $113 billion.
There’s no language in the current NFL’s constitution and bylaws obtained by Front Office Sports that would bar Bezos from owning an NFL team.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, however, has the authority to “implement additional policies” related to “perceived conflicts with existing business partners” in consultation with the league’s finances and/or fund investment committees.
Balsam said the league’s rules have morphed to give owners more freedom when it comes to business outside their respective NFL teams. Much of that stemmed from the relaxation before the total elimination of cross-ownership rules.
“The league is saying [by the changes to the constitution and bylaws], ‘We want to make smart, accommodating and flexible decisions,’” Balsam said. “‘We’re not absolutists on any of this anymore.’”
While Snyder hasn’t officially said he’s selling all or even a majority stake in the team yet, it’s an anticipated next step from his announcement last week.
The Commanders said in a statement that Snyder is “exploring all options” with the assistance of Bank of America.
The finance committee undertakes a review of an ownership application after a winning bid is selected. (The application fee is $25,000, but is refunded if the ownership bid is rejected.) If the finance committee approves, it goes to full ownership where 24 votes are needed to approve.