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Snyder on the Hot Seat; Commanders Owner Could Face Vote for Removal

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

The mess that is the Washington Commanders’ front office got even messier on Wednesday, as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell testified before the House Oversight Committee on the “toxic workplace culture” that has characterized the Dan Snyder era of Washington football[1]. The hearing was part of a larger investigation into the NFL’s refusal to publicize the findings of their own internal investigation into the Washington Commanders’ workplace, and their “failure to take meaningful steps to address and prevent” the misconduct[2].

Wednesday’s hearings came after a February roundtable, in which former employees of Snyder’s discussed the “sexual harassment, verbal abuse, and other misconduct” they had to endure during their employment[3]. The House Oversight Committee’s involvement in the workplace practices and misconduct of an NFL owner may seem bizarre to the average football fan, but it is not without just cause. Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), emphasized the NFL’s popularity and nationwide prominence as reasons to introduce new legislation which would “rein in the abuse of non-disclosure, confidentiality, and non-disparagement agreements in the workplace” in order to create new protections for employees[4]. Essentially, this proposal would prevent misconduct from being silenced by NDAs, a practice that Snyder has made quite the use of during his time as owner[5].

Goodell’s testimony on Wednesday defended the NFL’s decision to hire an independent investigator to look into the claims of workplace harassment, and claimed that the League had “imposed unprecedented discipline” on the club, amounting to $10 million in fines and restrictions on participating in League circles[6]. In the midst of all this turmoil, the Committee announced late Wednesday night that they will subpoena owner Dan Snyder after he declined the invitation to appear before the Committee. Chairwoman Maloney said in a statement Wednesday night that she is prepared to hold Snyder accountable if the NFL isn’t willing to do so[7].

The big question that looms over the hearings is what could actually happen to Snyder, and could he be removed as owner? Certainly, any removal of an NFL owner would be unprecedented. In recent years, sports fans have seen the removal of Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and investigation into Suns owner Robert Sarver, but nothing has shaken the NFL ownership ranks like the years-long saga that has been the Snyder-led Commanders. Rumors have been swirling that other NFL owners are counting votes for an ousting of Snyder, but they would need a super-majority of 24 out of 32 owners to vote in favor[8].

Whether such a vote would actually take place remains to be seen, but the prospect of such a vote is incredibly interesting. Goodell downplayed his power to remove an owner, saying that he does not have the authority to force a removal, but forgetting to mention the fact he can recommend a vote[9]. The fallout and procedure for the removal of an owner would be an enormous story for the law and for sports, and with the upcoming testimony of Snyder, it is very possible that such a process is on the table. Any vote to remove Snyder would likely be after his testimony for the H.O.C., as owners would see how he appears to the public and how forthcoming he is about the misconduct before making a final decision.

Greg Moretto is a Pre-Law Student at Boston College ‘23. He is a member of the BC Sports Business Society E-Board. He can be found on Twitter @grejmoretto.

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