Wednesday October 4, 2023

Why Jerry Jones’ Backing Is Crucial to Dan Snyder

  • Snyder and Jones have been close for many years, and there are no outward signs of a rift.
  • Snyder's grasp of the Commanders could be tested after latest investigations conclude.
Dan Snyder
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Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder’s very public meeting at midfield with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been open to some interpretation since it went down on Sunday. 

Sources have told Front Office Sports in recent months that Snyder’s relationship with the “shadow commissioner” — as Jones has been called — isn’t quite as strong as in years past. But there was Snyder making his first public appearance in months, standing alongside Jones at midfield of AT&T Stadium. 

A source told FOS that there’s no rift between the two, but added “don’t read too much into” the photo opp. Jones often greets fellow owners on the field, although not always next to the Cowboys’ trademark logo in the middle of the field. 

“Jerry can be quite an ally,” one NFL owner told Front Office Sports. 

There are two investigations — including a nearly yearlong Congressional probe and another independent inquiry by the NFL — expected to conclude in the coming weeks. 

The House Oversight Committee’s investigation — which began as an examination of how the Commanders fostered a toxic workplace culture — has long been expected to wrap up around the midterm elections next month.The probe could conceivably continue until the congressional term ends in early January, and longer if the Democrats maintain control of the House. 

Then there’s May Jo White’s investigation that a source told FOS last week was “close” to being concluded. Sources expect White’s findings wouldn’t be released until after the House Oversight Committee releases its final findings.

Snyder’s wife and Commanders co-CEO Tanya Snyder and team president Jason Wright also met with Jones. Pictures were posted shortly afterward on the team’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts.

There was another maneuver this week some viewed as a preemptive move by Snyder. 

Tom Davis, a former Republican congressman who is one of Snyder’s lawyers, sent a letter to the committee on Wednesday that called into question its investigative methods and intentions. 

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Since February when ProFootballTalk reported Snyder’s support among ownership has eroded, USA Today and, most recently, The Washington Post have published stories about how many of the NFL’s other 31 owners have lost their patience with Snyder.

Twenty-four owners would be needed to remove Snyder, and the NFL has never forced an owner to sell. The more likely scenario would be a group of owners urging Snyder to sell the team, which Forbes values at $5.6 billion. 

And there are reasons beyond the investigations that Snyder has fallen out of favor with at least some owners.

The Commanders were second-to-last in attendance last year. When Snyder completed the purchase of the franchise in May 1999, the team was in the top five in home attendance.

Teams are required to share a portion of ticket revenue. FOS reported earlier this year that the Commanders may have held back some of that ticket revenue that should have gone into a pool of money distributed to teams. 

There’s also Snyder’s quest for a new stadium to replace FedEx Field. A bill in the Virginia legislature — which would have committed about $300 million in public funding — didn’t have enough support to move forward. 

There’s likely to be a renewed effort on the legislation for a $3 billion domed stadium project in 2023. Other teams — including the Buffalo Bills who received $850 million in public financing for their new stadium — haven’t had as much difficulty in their new stadium pursuits. 

“More and more, owners have had it with him,” one team executive told FOS.

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