The NFL is preparing to fight Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder. But, to what end?
Two revealing moves during Super Bowl week showed the NFL's patience with the owner is exhausted. First, the NFL overrode the team's announcement it would investigate itself over accusations against Snyder during a House roundtable that included one direct allegation of sexual misconduct. The league quickly said it was investigating the team, not the team itself.
It was a sharp reveal that the NFL was upset with Snyder, especially because of the league's long-standing tradition of no controversy during Super Bowl week.
But, the showstopper came hours before Sunday's game when Pro Football Talk founder Mike Florio said during the NBC pregame show, "There is a sense among ownership that the time has come for Dan Snyder to move on."
Forget mic drop – that's a nuclear countdown.
The NFL is all about backroom politics and those moves were calculated. They were the first to either suspend Snyder or force a sale. After botching the first investigation into the team by demanding no written report, the NFL's credibility was vaporized. Sanctions were minor and Snyder was simply told to stay out of sight for a while.
The NFL can't hide anymore now that a House committee is demanding documents. Everything will come out unless Snyder is sent packing and the NFL knows it. The league loves living in dark corners and politicians grandstanding on NFL graves is the last thing the league wants.
But, here's the big problem – the NFL fears Snyder retaliation if ordered to sell. It resembles the days of Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis suing the NFL repeatedly whenever clashing with fellow owners. Yet, Davis was at least an NFL lifer who wouldn't seek the league's demise. Snyder is just a rich guy who has no football acumen, even after 23 years. He has no true allies among fellow owners, not even Dallas owner Jerry Jones when it comes to the bottom line, and no problem hurting the league.
The NFL was lucky Carolina owner Jerry Richardson left voluntarily after allegations of misconduct with female staffers. Richardson was an NFL lifer and 82 years old. The backroom pressure worked.
It won't with Snyder. Maybe he accepts an NFL suspension of a year, partly because his wife is publicly running the team. It would be hard for the NFL to remove Tanya Snyder given no accusations against her, so Dan Snyder would still have input rather than a 100 percent decease order.
But Snyder's not selling willingly. Not with a new stadium to build that would increase the team's value substantially and provide a legacy after his departure. FedEx Field is still a monument to late owner Jack Kent Cooke, even if a lackluster facility. Snyder getting a generational nod by building a palace plus another billion dollars for the team is his true motivation, more than winning a Super Bowl.
This will end in the courts and it won't be pretty because Snyder will surely reveal dirty NFL secrets. It might take years. Meanwhile, the franchise slips into limbo much like two years after Cooke's death until Snyder took control.
The NFL has a game plan versus Snyder. We're about to see it.
Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.