The NFL has approved the sale of the Washington Commanders to a partnership group led by Josh Harris. In a special session on Thursday, the league’s owners voted unanimously to allow the purchase. The deal could close as early as Friday, per the Washington Post.
The Snyder family and the new Harris-led ownership group had entered into a formal agreement to sell the team in May. As well as voting to allow the sale, the NFL fined Dan Snyder $60 million following the league’s investigation into sexual and financial misconduct by Snyder and the Commanders.
"I know what I’ve got to do and ultimately that comes down to winning."
Future Managing Partner Josh Harris answers questions from the media pic.twitter.com/1xWv6LCerO
— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) July 20, 2023
At $6.05 billion, the deal will set a record for the highest sale price for a North American team in any sport. Harris currently owns both the New Jersey Devils and the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. He grew up in Maryland, an experience he put front-and-center in a press conference Thursday afternoon:
“As a lifelong Washington football fan that grew up in Chevy Chase, I’m incredibly excited and humbled by the opportunity to serve alongside my partners as stewards of this great franchise on behalf of the city of Washington, DC,” Harris said.
Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, also part of Harris’ group, took to Twitter to celebrate the vote.
This is truly the biggest achievement in my business career and a historic moment for the entire Black community. Talk about God’s perfect timing. This was the right organization for me to be a part of given it’s global appeal, history of winning, and the diverse fanbase and DMV…
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 20, 2023
Harris won’t be the only area local included under new ownership. Local billionaire Mitchell Rales and Mark Ein, a Maryland native and owner of the Washington Kastles are also part of the purchasing group.
— Mark Ein (@Markein) July 20, 2023
Before issuing their approval, the NFL reportedly required some changes to Harris’ deal, ensuring that Harris would own more than 30% of the team without carrying more than $1.1 billion in debt. Harris met with the league’s finance committee in early June, agreeing to make the requested changes and paving the way for Thursday’s vote.
News of the sale’s approval led to widespread celebration by local Commanders fans, including parties at Old Ox Brewery and outdoor venue The Bullpen. The festivities only grew when Harris announced that he would buy a beer for every fan in attendance.
“I’m going to have to dip into my savings, but I want everyone to have a beer,” Harris joked during an appearance on 106.7 The Fan’s Grant and Danny. “Let’s do it!”
— Darren M. Haynes (@DarrenMHaynes) July 20, 2023
— Chris Russell AKA the 🐓🐓! (@Russellmania621) July 20, 2023
With the sale, Snyder’s controversial and often-struggling reign over the Commanders will come to an end after over 20 years. Snyder’s tenure was regularly marked by allegations of misconduct, leading to investigations by both the NFL and the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The latter reported a “toxic work culture” and sexual misconduct within the organization in a report released last December.
Alongside the approval of the sale, the NFL released the full report of their investigation on Thursday. The report details sexual harassment by Snyder against a former Commanders employee, financial impropriety by the team to circumvent the NFL’s revenue-sharing policies, and a failure to cooperate in the investigation, ultimately fining Snyder $60 million.
On the field, the Commanders have held a record of 164–220–2 record since Snyder purchased the team in 1999. During that period, the franchise had more team names (three) than total playoff wins (two) and may have once spilled actual sewage on fans during a game.
Here’s the full press release from the Commanders:
The Commanders announce that the NFL owners unanimously approved the sale of the Washington Commanders. The deal is expected to close shortly. The Commanders share a message from future Commanders Managing Partner Josh Harris: Today, my partners and I were entrusted by the NFL with the stewardship of a great franchise.
As a lifelong Washington football fan who grew up here, I know that the Commanders are more than just a sports team. This is an institution, passed down from generation to generation.
From day one, it is our top priority to deliver you a championship caliber team, and we will strive everyday to ensure that we are a franchise you can be proud of.
To Commanders fans everywhere, our promise is simple: We will do the work, create the culture and make the investment needed to deliver for this team and for Washington.
Approved and expected to close shortly ✅
A message from Josh Harris ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/DcZisMAzKM
— Washington Commanders (@Commanders) July 20, 2023
Screenshot: Washington Commanders/YouTube
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