The growing crowd urging the NFL to throw out Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder has finally figured out how – follow the money.
Forget email campaigns. They're too often dismissed by businesses figuring discontent will pass. After all, how many anti-Redskins name change movements failed before finally targeting corporate sponsors?
Major sponsor pullbacks will get the NFL's attention via lost revenue. Fellow owners don't want to expel a member over poor behavior, but start cutting revenues and it's open season on Snyder.
And now, Congress is really ready to hurt the NFL, which might be the breaking point for Snyder. The Post reported Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) co-authored the "No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act," which would prevent a common NFL tactic of using favorable tax-exempt municipal bonds to build stadiums.
If passed, and you can expect heavy NFL lobbying to counter it, the bill would heavily increase stadium construction costs. New stadiums are already in the $5 billion range and ending tax breaks would be back-breaking or cause more modest venues.
Normally, legislators look the other way on sports teams paying less taxes in return for constituents enjoying games and entertainment. Indeed, Speier claimed the NFL saved $4 billion in taxes over 20 years using this ploy.
That's not to say the NFL won't use a Plan B to avoid taxes, because that's what billionaires do best. But the short term really targets the Commanders, who are openly courting Virginia and Maryland for their new stadium in 2027. Virginia is proposing up to $1 billion in support while Maryland is planning several hundred million dollars in aid to keep the team in Landover where it plays at FedEx Field.
Congress is targeting the Commanders with this bill after recent accusations against Snyder and team staff over sexual harassment of female workers. Following a Feb. 3 roundtable discussion, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform has requested more than 1,000 pages of documents from the NFL on its past investigation that included no written findings while fining the team $10 million and asking Snyder to take a smaller role in daily club activities.
Other teams would be impacted, though. The Post reported 43 of 57 stadiums built since 2000 used tax-exempt municipal bonds. So now Snyder's problems resonate throughout sports, and that's where owners already disturbed by Snyder's actions might be willing to force him out.
Money – it's always money – creates change. Social norms are nice, but don't make businesses change unless the price is unbearable. Money is the only way the NFL forces Snyder to sell the team.
Still, it's a long way for Congress to pass this bill. Maybe the threat of it is enough, but it's still a long-term move. Given there will be lawyers, it might even take years. But, at least Snyder's detractors have found the only approach that might work.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.