By Max Harper
The NFL owners are expected to meet next week to vote on the sale of the Commanders from Daniel Snyder to a group led by Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils owner Josh Harris for an estimated $6.05 billion.
But according to a report from the Post, legal issues threaten to complicate the deal in its final days.
According to one of the people with knowledge of the deliberations, the complications are related at least in part to legal issues pertaining to the leaking of emails that led to the October 2021 resignation of Jon Gruden as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
That person described the complications as “significant” and “not just some small snag,” expressing the view that the issues could delay the owners’ approval of the sale and the closing of the deal if they’re not resolved. But the person also left open the possibility that Snyder and his attorneys merely are attempting to extract last-minute concessions from the NFL on legal indemnification related to Gruden’s lawsuit against the league, and the issues will be resolved in time for the owners to ratify the deal as expected next Thursday.
According the The Post, Snyder is not seeking indemnification from the other owners and the league for his own legal liability, but is unwilling to indemnify the league and other owners from liability related to the Gruden case. Specifically, Snyder’s lawyers contend that he should not be liable for any actions taken by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell or league attorney Jeffrey Pash in connection with the case.
Gruden resigned in 2021 after the Wall Street Journal and New York Times revealed excerpts of emails in which the former coach and longtime commentator repeatedly used racist, sexist, and homophobic language and slurs, including in reference to Goodell and NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. He later filed a lawsuit accusing the league of leaking the emails to sabotage his career. He has stated that he will not settle the lawsuit and intends to “burn the house down” to reveal the source of the leaks, and claims that the 650,000 emails at issue in the case will “incriminate everyone in the league.”
The NFL has denied leaking the emails, as have Snyder, his wife Tanya (the team’s co-CEO), and the team. The league and the House Oversight Committee have already led investigations into the Commanders franchise’s operations and its various workplace problems, and the league has an ongoing second investigation into the team. Goodell has stated that he will publicly release the findings of that investigation even if the team is sold, which is expected to happen next week.