Billionaires reportedly lining up to enter bids to purchase Washington Commanders
The process of finding a new owner for the Washington Commanders has entered a new phase.
According to multiple reports, a group led by Josh Harris and Mitchell Rales — and including Lakers legend Magic Johnson — has submitted a fully financed bid for the franchise, now owned by the embattled Daniel Snyder. ESPN, citing an unnamed source, has reported the group has met Snyder’s $6 billion asking price.
But there are more billionaires in the mix, among them Canadian developer Steve Apostolopoulos — ESPN has reported he too has submitted a bid of $6 billion — and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta. Some people anticipate Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to enter the fray.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who spoke at the conclusion of the meetings, said the league got an update on the Commanders’ situation Tuesday afternoon.
“The Washington Commanders are obviously the ones conducting the process on the sale,” Goodell said. “If there’s a sale, they will notify us and we will proceed on that one.”
Speculation about new owners has been percolating since November, when Daniel and Tanya Snyder announced they had hired Bank of America to begin the process of potentially selling part or all of the team.
The anticipated sale of the Commanders, which requires approval of three-quarters of the other 31 clubs, is a major topic at the annual league meetings. The Denver Broncos were the last NFL franchise to change hands, selling for a record $4.65 billion in August.
Unlike seasons past, the Rams have lost more players than they added and did not make any star-studded moves. But they are in better salary-cap position for future.
The widely unpopular Snyder is at the center of multiple investigations into the running of his team. According to a congressional report released in December, Snyder “permitted and participated” in the club’s pervasive and toxic work culture, worked to dissuade and intimidate witnesses from cooperating in a 14-month inquiry and claimed more than 100 times in testimony that he could not recall answers to basic questions.
In July 2021, the NFL fined the then-Washington Football Team $10 million and required that Snyder relinquish day-to-day operations of the franchise for several months after an independent investigation found the club’s workplace “highly unprofessional,” particularly for women. At that point, the team had been under investigation for a year stemming from dozens of sexual harassment allegations by previous employees over a 15-year period.
Although a sale of the Commanders could require weeks or even months, there’s a possibility a vote could take place at the league’s May meetings in Minnesota.
Harris owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils, and teamed with Rales, a Maryland billionaire originally from Pittsburgh. Johnson owns a minority share of the Dodgers and long has expressed interest in being part of an NFL ownership group.
Don’t look back
The Rams proposed a rule to make roughing-the-passer penalties reviewable but couldn’t sway enough of the teams to affect a change.
The proposal failed to receive the requisite 24 votes Tuesday, possibly because of an experiment that flopped in 2019. That’s when the NFL tried booth reviews of pass-interference calls, and those proved too subjective to merit a permanent rules change.
“There are a lot of issues that go into it,” said Rich McKay, chairman of the competition committee, on making roughing calls subject to replay reviews. “It’s a dramatic and almost drastic change of officiating, taking it from the field up to the booth.”
McKay declined to reveal the vote tally but said: “It wasn’t a long discussion and then we voted and it did not pass.”
Now that YouTube TV is taking over the Sunday Ticket package, there will be only one RedZone Channel: the NFL-produced version hosted by Scott Hanson, not the DirecTV version hosted by Andrew Siciliano.
Single-digit jersey numbers are in vogue, so there was little resistance to adding “0” as an option. All players are eligible to wear that number this season, except those in the trenches.
Offensive linemen are still relegated to numbers between 50 and 79, whereas defensive linemen can wear numbers in that range or from 90 to 99.
Now that the Carolina Panthers have acquired the No. 1 pick from the Bears, a look at which teams might select the top four quarterbacks in the draft.
Kicking it down road
The league tabled a proposal by the Philadelphia Eagles to provide an option to an onside kick. The Eagles suggested a team that’s trailing could maintain possession by substituting one offensive play — a fourth-and-20 from its 20 — in lieu of an onside kick.
The rate of successful onside kicks dwindled to 4% last season, well below the league’s desired rate of 13% to 14%.
With further reducing concussions in mind, the league plans to expand the use of so-called guardian caps, the padded shells that fit over helmets, to full-contact practices during the regular season and not just the preseason.
At training camps last summer, the caps were worn by offensive and defensive linemen, as well as linebackers and tight ends. Now, tailbacks and fullbacks will wear them too.
This too shall pass
Rules changes that passed include proposals from the Chargers to make the adjustment of the play clock after instant replay consistent with other timing rules; Houston’s proposal to allow for review of failed fourth-down attempts, and the competition committee’s proposal to make the penalty for tripping a personal foul.
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