On Wednesday, The Washington Post’s Mark Maske reported that Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder’s attempted buyout of the organization was approved by the NFL’s owners.
NFL owners ratified a $450 million debt waiver for Daniel Snyder and his purchase of the ownership shares held by Dwight Schar, Fred Smith and Robert Rothman.
— MarkMaske (@MarkMaske) March 31, 2021
When the news that this move was likely on its way broke last Wednesday, fans and experts alike — as expected — voiced their displeasure with the league’s seemingly newfound wave of confidence and support for the 56 year-old Maryland native and lifelong Washington fan.
With an investigation into sexual harassments within the team still ongoing, the timing of the approval is an eyebrow-raiser. The results from said investigation could still heavily impact Snyder’s future as the owner of the franchise.
A New Perspective
Let’s look at Snyder’s ownership in terms of the organization’s product on the field.
But in 2020, the owner turned over a new leaf. With the hiring of Ron Rivera and a mission to change the team’s culture from top to bottom, Snyder went more “hands off” than ever, and allowed football people to make football decisions.
This refreshing style of leadership has manifested itself in multiple forms.
Last offseason, Washington drafted smartly, didn’t overpay for a “big name” free agent, and acquired players who fit what Rivera is building in Ashburn.
During the season, Rivera’s decision to release Haskins — the quarterback who was hand-picked by Snyder himself during the 2019 draft — was met with zero opposition and full support from the owner.
All of this was a stark contrast to how things had operated in the nation’s capital in years prior.
This style has even carried over into this offseason. During the introductory press conference for general manager Martin Mayhew and executive vice president of player personnel Marty Hurney, Rivera expressed Snyder’s willingness to delegate decision-making power. As Ethan Cadeaux of NBC Sports Washington noted:
Both Mayhew and Hurney formally interviewed for the general manager vacancy. It’s no secret they both wanted the gig. Heck, Rivera even said he was struggling to choose between the two as who to hire and that’s when Snyder stepped in and said why not both?
Additionally, it was made clear in said press conference that the WFT was going to follow a “coach-centric” structure, where Rivera would call (nearly) all the shots regarding personnel decisions.
Both Snyder and the members of the team’s revamped front office have stayed true to their word. The signing of Ryan Fitzpatrick confirms this, as the team is showing their willingness to stay patient in the search for a franchise quarterback — as opposed to drafting/signing one in a panicked state (i.e. Haskins).
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I’m a firm believer in the fact that people (yes, even Dan Snyder) can change.
While Washington fans anxiously await the results of the sexual harrassment investigation, it’s important to keep in mind the strides that Snyder himself has made as the owner of a football team over the course of the past year.
As to the buyout itself, less conflict at the top will benefit everybody involved. With the minority owners out of the picture, maybe things in Ashburn will slowly but surely return to football as the primary focus.