Snyder Goes Unpunished; When Is Enough, Enough?

by Aviv Klayman ‘24

Dan Snyder is quite possibly the worst owner in National Football League (NFL) history, and that’s saying something. For the past two decades Snyder has been at the root of controversies, scandals, and embarrassments that have embroiled the Washington Football Team (WFT). During Snyder’s tenure, the team has a combined 151-208-1 regular-season record and has not won a playoff game since 2005. Amid news reports about emails between (now former) Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen, the WFT is once again the centerpiece of an embarrassing NFL scandal.

In July of 2020, the Washington Post published an article in which 15 former front-office employees reported that they were harassed while working for the WFT. Snyder immediately promised to investigate the team’s workplace environment, but soon after, the NFL took over and uncovered incriminating emails between Gruden and Allen. After the NFL investigations, WFT was fined $10 million for its egregiously misogynistic workplace environment and pervasive toxic culture. Recently, Gruden stepped down as Raiders head coach after racist and homophobic emails that he wrote to Allen were reported by the NY Times, but both Allen and Snyder himself are yet to be punished in any meaningful way by the league.

Since 1999, the year Snyder bought the WFT, there have been countless scandals and controversies involving the team and Snyder himself. Last December, to settle a sexual misconduct case against Snyder, the WFT paid a $1.6 million settlement to a former female employee. Snyder also allegedly had a video made in 2008 of topless cheerleaders, without their consent, for his own enjoyment and reportedly to share with others. When questioned, both the team and Snyder had no comments when pressed about the videos. Snyder was also involved in another legal incident with Allen, in which he accused Allen for having connections to an Indian-based source that published negative articles about Snyder. These few, of the many, examples just prove how frequently he has behaved in a inappropriate way as the owner of a major sports franchise.

However, Snyder hasn’t just been terrible for WFT behind the scenes; he also has meddled with player personnel decisions that have contributed to Washington being one of the worst teams in the NFL. In 2010, the team traded for 34 year old quarterback Donovan McNabb from the Philadelphia Eagles after a big push for the vet from Snyder. Snyder paid McNabb a contract that could be up to $88 million. In 2010, McNabb had his worst season as a starter and was benched before the season ended and replaced by Rex Grossman. More recently, Snyder reportedly pressured the team to draft Dwayne Haskins with the No. 15 pick in the 2019 draft. Haskins went 3-10 in 13 starts and is now a backup for the Steelers. And let’s not get into the rise and fall of RG III, or that there have been a total of 23 quarterbacks who have started games during Snyder’s time as owner. Speaking of turmoil, and drama, Snyder also hired 10 head coaches in 20 years. Players and coaches come and go, and more and more fans stop caring. Somehow, Snyder still gets to be in charge.