CW: Sexual Harassment, Racism
Colin Healy ‘25
Since 1999, Dan Snyder has been the team owner of the NFL’s Washington Commanders. And, since 1999, that same franchise has been embroiled in controversy after controversy, due in large part to Snyder. This unending cycle of negativity has undertoned the actual football being played in Washington D.C., not that the on-field product has been anything special during Snyder’s tenure. However, it seems that after almost 25 years, Snyder could finally be heading out the door. After all, he’s been nearing the exit for a while.
Perhaps the biggest controversy of Snyder’s tenure has been the name of the team he owns. The team was named the Redskins in 1933, when the franchise was based in Boston and more than 30 years away from joining the NFL. As times changed, the name lost its popularity as well as its ethical viability. Native American advocacy groups saw the name as offensive, as did other fans and observers.
Snyder purchased the franchise without any intention to change the team name. He held his ground against numerous calls for a name change for quite some time. In a 2013 interview with USA Today, Snyder said “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.” Despite his unwillingness to budge, the pressure to change the name mounted. As it would turn out, Snyder’s words in that interview would only hold true for another seven years as the franchise finally scrubbed the Redskins moniker. Earlier this year, the franchise was renamed the Washington Commanders after playing two seasons as the Washington Football Team.
The name controversy was a glaring hole in Snyder’s reputation, but it is not what has him up against the ropes right now. It has been alleged that Snyder has been presiding over an unwelcome and at times unsafe work environment. Proven allegations of sexual misconduct and assault have been levied against team executives, associates, and even players, Snyder himself among them. This is the disturbing reality that has been Snyder’s ownership.
Just this past week the D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine brought a civil lawsuit upon Snyder for his role in enabling an unsafe Commanders’ workplace. It’s the latest development in the Snyder saga, which has been covered in depth in recent months following his testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform in July 2022 regarding the same issue. With all of this going on, Snyder has reportedly started to explore options for selling the team.
Commanders fans are certainly rejoicing upon hearing this news of Snyder possibly selling the team. Of course, they’d rather it be under different circumstances, but moving on from the Snyder era will help to elevate this franchise. Public relations have been in disarray throughout Snyder’s time, and the Commanders themselves haven’t sniffed a Super Bowl once in the past 23 years. A whirlwind of controversies make it hard for a team to muster a championship mentality.
It is abundantly clear that Dan Snyder needs to go. But the only person who can really make that decision is him. That’s why he is still there today. He’s overstayed his welcome though, perhaps by decades, and his ownership is seemingly in its waning hours. There is a growing sense that a new era of the Washington Commanders is imminent. That is a win for the Commanders, the NFL, and the fans.
Image courtesy of AP News