IRVING, Texas (AP) — As the NFL owners wrapped up a one-day meeting on Wednesday amid increasing speculation that the league’s ties with controversial team owner Dan Snyder are numbered, Roger Goodell had nothing definitive to say.
“I don’t have any expectations on that,” Goodell said when asked if he expected Snyder, who enlisted the help of a securities firm to facilitate a possible deal, to sell his entire franchise. “Dan stated that he was looking into it. And we’ll keep working with him on it.”
On the other hand, the NFL commissioner indicated that he is pleased with the culture change that has occurred within Snyder’s franchise as a result of the numerous allegations of sexual harassment and the ensuing investigations.
For the first time since the Congressional House Oversight Committee released a report last week that added layers to issues that have dogged Snyder and his franchise for months, Goodell spoke publicly about the Commanders’ situation. The league fined Snyder $10 million in July 2021 and agreed for him to hand over day-to-day operational control to his wife Tanya, but the league has been in a holding pattern since then, despite additional allegations, while former US Attorney Mary Jo White continues her investigation.
“The Washington Commanders organisation has changed,” Goodell explained. “That has been audited. That was the desired outcome.”
That is far from a unanimous sentiment. For months, several NFL owners have discussed the possibility of trying to force Snyder out, which would require 24 votes if he sold the franchise.
There was no formal discussion of a Commanders sale on Wednesday, according to Goodell, though there was a briefing that summarised the Oversight Committee’s report.
And, of course, there was ongoing informal discussion about Snyder. Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, told reporters that he hasn’t changed his mind since publicly declaring during the previous meeting that he suspected there was “merit” for NFL owners to consider voting Snyder out.
“There hasn’t been any change, but I need more information,” Irsay told reporters. “This is a significant decision. I stated from the start that I was only interested in learning more because there is a lot of concern and merit in investigating that possibility. But I said to think about it or look into it. I never said anything about voting him out. It’s something significant. We’ll have to wait and see what the New Year brings.”
Perhaps the New Year will mark the end of White’s investigation into Snyder and the Commanders, despite the fact that he has yet to interview Snyder. So much for necessity.
When asked why White’s investigation had taken so long, Goodell expressed no concern.
“No timeline has been given to Mary Jo,” Goodell said. “She’s got a lot of work to do on these investigations. I’m not going to force her to do it. She knows that she has our full support and she’s continuing to make progress. She’ll let us know when she’s finished.”
However, if Snyder sells (at a likely record price), White’s conclusion may be rendered moot.
A refined interview process with more “dignity and respect,” as Troy Vincent, executive vice president of football operations, described it, is one of the changes the NFL has planned for the scouting combine. Some candidates have taken offence over the years to interview tactics that include questions that appear to cross the line of professionalism. Vincent stated that the goal is to have more consistency in the team interviews. In addition to talking with players, Goodell stated that the league is looking to rearrange the scheduling of events, interviews, and medical testing to allow for more rest for on-field timing and testing. The NFL has committed to holding the combine in Indianapolis in 2023 and 2024, but the event will be open to bids from other cities beginning in 2025.
On Wednesday, owners voted on 12 business-related measures, including six involving $4 billion in financing for new stadiums (Buffalo, Nashville) and stadium renovations.
The NFL will not hold a game in Mexico in 2024, but may instead hold two games in Germany. According to Peter O’Reilly, the league’s executive vice president for business operations and events, the league’s Mexico City venue, Estadio Azteca, will be unavailable next year as it undergoes renovations in preparation for hosting the World Cup in 2026. The league also intends to hold three games in London again.