Colts' Jim Irsay: Daniel Snyder removal deserves 'serious consideration'

Colts’ Jim Irsay: Daniel Snyder removal deserves ‘serious consideration’

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NEW YORK — On a busy day when the controversy surrounding Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder dominated public conversation, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday he believes there are reasons that NFL team owners are considering voting to remove Snyder from their ranks, and Snyder sent a letter to his co-owners denying the allegations against him and calling for unity.

“I guess we’re going to get into more and more discussions about this,” Irsay said. “It’s a difficult situation. I believe there is merit in removing him as the owner of the [Commanders]. I think that’s something we need to revisit. We have to look at all the evidence and we have to be thorough going forward. But I think it’s something that needs to be seriously considered. »

Irsay spoke about the issue for nearly 15 minutes in front of a large group of reporters at a New York hotel where the owners were holding a one-day quarterly meeting. There was no vote on Snyder’s property taken Tuesday by the owners. It would take a vote of at least 24 of the 32 owners to remove Snyder. Tanya Snyder represented the commanders at the meeting.

“That’s not what we represent in the National Football League,” Irsay said. “And I think owners have often been painted incorrectly by various people and in various situations. And that’s not what it’s about… There’s just a lot of closeness in this league. And I don’t think, some of the things that I’ve heard, that doesn’t represent us at all, and I want the American public and the world to know what we are as owners.

The league and owners are awaiting the findings of an NFL-commissioned investigation into Snyder and the commanders led by attorney Mary Jo White.

“It is highly inappropriate, but not surprising, that Mr. Irsay chose to publicly make statements based on lies in the media,” a spokesman for the commanders said. “It is regrettable that Mr. Irsay has decided to release his statement today, while an investigation is ongoing and the team has not had the opportunity to formally respond to the allegations. Commanders have made remarkable progress over the past two years. We are confident that when he has the opportunity to see the actual evidence in this case, Mr. Irsay will conclude that there is no reason for the Snyders to consider selling the franchise. And they won’t.

As the meetings wrapped up Tuesday night, Snyder emailed a letter to the other owners, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

“Although we are all fierce competitors on the field, we are part of this organization because we love football, our teams and our fans,” Snyder wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post. and which was signed by him alone. “Having the privilege of owning a franchise in American sports is something that I know none of us take for granted. Falsehoods and lies spread about any of our organizations harm our League, our players and to our fans, and we simply cannot leave them unchallenged.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the owners were briefed on the progress of White’s investigation at Tuesday’s meeting.

“It’s an ongoing investigation,” Goodell said. “That’s what we talked about. … When Mary Jo White has completed her investigation, we always share that with the members and share it publicly, as we have committed to before. And I was very clear with [the owners] there is no reason to speculate at this point or argue until we have the facts. And so that was my message to the property. And there was little to no discussion.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform is investigating the team’s workplace and could release a final report in the coming weeks. The office of DC Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) has nearly completed its investigation into the Commanders and Snyder and plans to take further action in the case, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

NFL owners’ attitude hardens toward COs’ Daniel Snyder

Irsay became the first NFL owner to publicly say owners should consider removing Snyder.

“I think it’s in the interest of the National Football League that we look it straight in the eye and deal with it,” Irsay said. “I think America, the world, expects us, as leaders.”

Goodell said he was neither surprised nor disappointed by Irsay’s comments.

“I just said and I said this to the members: speculation without facts is not a very positive thing to do,” Goodell said in a press conference at the end of the meeting. “I think everyone deserves to have facts and to make sure those decisions are made with facts. And members will have that opportunity.

Goodell declined to provide a timeline for the completion of White’s investigation.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was followed out of the New York hotel lobby by a crowd of reporters after Tuesday’s meeting ended. Jones declined to answer most questions posed to him regarding Snyder. When asked what the other owners thought of Snyder, Jones replied, “I haven’t spoken to them.”

Just outside the hotel, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft answered similar questions as he waited his turn. “You’re going to have to ask them,” Kraft said of his co-owners’ opinion of Snyder.

Several owners told The Washington Post last month that they thought serious consideration could be given to trying to oust Snyder from the league’s ownership ranks, either by convincing him to sell his franchise or by voting to remove him. .

“He must sell,” said one of those owners at the time. “Some of us have to go up to him and tell him he has to sell.”

If Snyder couldn’t be persuaded to do so voluntarily, NFL rules would require a vote from owners to force him to sell.

“I think there will be movement,” the same owner said last month. “We need to get 24 votes.”

Asked on Tuesday if he thinks 24 owners will vote to remove Snyder, Irsay said: “I think there potentially will be. But we’ll see.

Irsay said he could anticipate a vote at the league’s annual meeting in March. Before that, there is a regularly scheduled owners meeting in December.

“I said it was under consideration, serious consideration,” Irsay said. “But I want to see the thorough investigation come before us and see exactly what is going on, including any financial irregularities. I don’t know if it exists. But that’s another element that we have to see.

The NFL launched White’s investigation after Tiffani Johnston, a former cheerleader and team marketing executive, told a congressional roundtable in February that Snyder harassed her during a team dinner, putting his hand on her thigh and urging her to his limo. Snyder denied the accusations, calling them “outright lies”.

In June, The Washington Post reported details of an employee’s claim that Snyder had sexually assaulted her during a flight in his private jet in April 2009. Later that year, the team reported agreed to pay $1.6 million to the employee, whom she fired, in a confidential settlement. . In a 2020 court filing, Snyder called the woman’s claims “baseless.”

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Irsay said. “It hurts me. … I was taught by the founders of this league that you have to protect the game and protect who we are. That’s not what we’re about.

Irsay dismissed speculation in a report by ESPN that Snyder may have used private investigators to gather information about Goodell and the owners in an attempt to deter any attempts to take him down.

“I don’t know about that,” Irsay said. ” I do not care. You can investigate me until the cows come home. It’s not going to back me down, private investigators or anything. For me, I just ignored it. It’s irrelevant to me. I don’t know any of that. I only focus on the problem [of] what happened in Washington. And, to me, that is very concerning.

Snyder wrote in Tuesday’s letter to the owners that the ESPN report “contains false and malicious statements” about the team and his family. Snyder described the allegation that team president Jason Wright lacked the authority to make substantial changes within the organization as “particularly shameful”. He denied hiring private investigators to seek damaging information about the owners and Goodell.

“This is patently untrue and intended to erode the trust and goodwill among owners that I take very seriously,” Snyder wrote.

In April, the committee detailed allegations of financial impropriety by Snyder and the team in a letter to the Federal Trade Commission. Racine and Republican Virginia Attorney General Jason S. Miyares announced they would investigate. The team denied committing any financial irregularities.

Goodell said there was “no change” in Snyder’s ownership status. The league announced in July 2021, following an earlier investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson, that the team had been fined $10 million and that Tanya Snyder, wife of Daniel Snyder and co-CEO of the franchise, would take control of the daily life of the team. operations for an indefinite period. His attorneys said last week that Daniel Snyder was “no longer subject to any NFL restrictions” related to his involvement in the day-to-day operations of the franchise.

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