From the moment the NFL strategically announced the bottom-line outcome of lawyer Beth Wilkinson’s investigation of the Commanders on the front end of a de facto four-day Fourth of July weekend, it started to become apparent that the league was trying to protect team owner Daniel Snyder. More than 19 months later, it’s becoming fairly clear that 345 Park Avenue has been committed to helping Snyder realize an outcome less significant than he potentially deserves.
One of the major takeaways from Tuesday’s item from Don Van Natta, Jr. of ESPN.com regarding the current investigation by federal prosecutors of the Commanders and Snyder is that the league has helped Snyder avoid having the question of a potentially improper $55 million line of credit blow up in his face.
The final boost apparently came when, after the loan that allegedly wasn’t approved by the team’s board of directors became an issue in an arbitration between Snyder and his former partners, the league nudged the fight into a two-day mediation session that settled all issues and allowed the partners to move on.
Lawyers Lisa Banks and Debra Katz, who have represented more than 40 former employees of the team, issued a statement on Tuesday attacking the league for helping insulate Snyder from any consequences.
“This week, not only have we seen additional damning evidence that Snyder likely engaged in illegal financial dealings and cheated other owners, but we are also reminded of the unfathomable lengths that Roger Goodell and the NFL have gone to protect him,” the lawyers said. “Indeed, Snyder continues to insist on special treatment and protection from the NFL and its owners, by reportedly demanding that the league indemnify him against all liability and also that it bury the results of an ongoing investigation that Commissioner Goodell promised our clients would be made public.
“As a result of our clients’ courage and tenacity, and despite Snyder’s efforts to evade accountability, investigations are ongoing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia, which is investigating Snyder’s financial misconduct, and by Mary Jo White, who is in the final phase of her year-long NFL investigation into allegations of personal sexual misconduct by Snyder, and financial improprieties by the team.
“We look forward to seeing the results of these investigations, which we fully expect will confirm the unlawful actions of Dan Snyder and the team, and will result in long-awaited vindication for the brave women and men who made such accountability possible. No matter how wealthy or powerful, no owner, team or sports league is above the law.”
It’s unclear how they know that Mary Jo White’s investigation is in the “final stages.” Some believe that the White investigation is in limbo while Snyder potentially sells the team.
Regardless, the federal investigation is potentially far more problematic than anything White could do. And based on Tuesday’s ESPN.com report, there’s a chance the federal investigation could become a major problem for Snyder — and possibly for the league office.