NFL asked to bar outgoing Commanders owner from suing accusers

The attorneys representing former Washington Commanders employees have asked the NFL to bar outgoing Commanders majority owner Dan Snyder from suing his accusers who have participated in multiple investigations surrounding the franchise. 

In a letter obtained by The Hill, attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressing their excitement about the team’s potential sale, which they said “will ensure that Daniel Snyder will no longer be able to exert his malign influence over team employees.”

“We understand that the League and other team owners must review and approve the terms of any sale between Mr.Snyder and the new ownership group,” Banks and Katz continued in their letter. “In doing so, we request that you and the NFL owners demand that the sale agreement includes a contractual provision that forbids Mr.Snyder from initiating ligation against any of the individuals who participated in the various investigations into the team, including but not limited to our 40+ clients.” 

The attorneys also noted in their letter that Snyder has a reputation of being “vindictive” and “litigious” and said that their clients have expressed concern about him taking such action to the House Oversight and Reform Committees and attorneys Beth Wilkinson and Mary Jo White, both of whom were tapped to conduct investigations into the team by the league.

“Although we are confident that any such litigation by Mr. Snyder would be meritless — as the women and men involved in the investigations did nothing more than accurately and honestly share their experiences working for the team — the emotional, financial and professional toll on these individuals to defend against even a baseless lawsuit would be incalculable,” the letter reads. 

“We hope and expect that the NFL and its team owners will understand the risks people took to come forward and cooperate with the League, as well as with state and federal officials, in the many investigations conducted over the past few years,” the attorneys added in their letter. “You now have the ability and the obligation to ensure that they are not further victimized by Mr. Snyder or anyone associated with him after the sale of the team.”

The Hill has reached out to the NFL and the Washington Commanders for comment on the matter. 

The letter comes as the NFL has begun reviewing the sale agreement between Snyder and the reported group that placed the bid to purchase the team from him, according to The Associated Press. 

The sale, first reported by sports business outlet Sportico last week, would see a group led by Josh Harris, Mitchell Rales and NBA legend Magic Johnson acquire the 91-year-old NFL franchise.

Twenty-four out of the 31 league owners will have to vote yes to approve the sale of the Commanders franchise. 

Snyder, along with his wife, team co-owner Tanya Snyder, announced last November that they hired Bank of America to explore a potential sale of the team. 

Multiple other suitors have either expressed interest or placed bids to purchase the franchise, including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, television mogul Byron Allen and Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos. 

The team and organization have suffered through a series of controversies during Snyder’s tenure, including allegations of sexual harassment from former employees and allegations of financial improprieties.

The House Oversight and Accountability Committee conducted an investigation of the team, launched after emails between former team president Bruce Allen and former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden leaked to the public. The emails included racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments.

The NFL, which initially fined Snyder and his team $10 million last year for conducting an “unprofessional workplace,” launched its second investigation earlier this year after former team cheerleader and marketing manager Tiffani Johnston accused Snyder of sexually harassing her at a work-related dinner in 2004.

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