First of all, let’s not rush. At this time, we know very little about a potential new phase of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s investigation into Washington commanders. But we know the committee, which began its work digging into the COs’ toxic workplace and widespread sexual harassment, is now reportedly investigating financial irregularities in the team’s operations.
the Washington Post was the first to report yesterday on the committee’s broadening of its inquiry and finally got committee chairwoman Carolyn Maloney to confirm that the committee had moved its inquiry beyond its original purpose. This report was followed by one from Front Office Sports, which cited sources who added a little more color. According to the report, the committee is investigating allegations that the commanders engaged in shady accounting practices, and may even have kept two sets of books in order to present a misleading picture of the team’s financial situation.
That’s all that’s been reported so far, and we’re still a long way from meaning anything. Investigating allegations of financial fraud is very different from finding evidence of financial fraud, and even if the committee finds this second book infamous, would you be willing to bet money on Dan Snyder’s suffering and personal consequences accordingly ?
Corn! If the congressional committee ends up revealing a real financial scandal, it wouldn’t necessarily have to be for Snyder to be behind bars, or even lose his team, to have any real consequences. What would make a scandal like this different from all the others that have sprung up from the Commanders front office is not that it has the potential to finally be the one to stick with Snyder, but that it could stick with anything. the world.
The league has so far been able to withstand Snyder’s festering presence in its ranks, as it’s been relatively easy to keep his stench confined to Washington. Snyder running an organization that empowers an old boys’ club that sexually harasses every woman in sight certainly damages the reputation of the NFL itself, but it’s not an existential threat. It’s easy enough for the league to build a wall around a scandal like that by launching an investigation and then, say, making sure the investigation doesn’t turn up any documentary evidence before slapping the wrist to Snyder. We have looked into the matter. Snyder was punished. Now let’s play football.
It is, however, much harder to imagine the league office so easily brushing off a scandal with the implications it could bring. If Snyder is screwing up his accounts so badly that Congress can’t help but raise their eyebrows, then how is anyone supposed to believe that every other league owner isn’t doing the exact same thing? Do you think Jerry Jones, the guy who is currently embroiled in a paternity lawsuit that was preceded by millions of dollars in quiet payments, is being totally honest when it comes to declaring his finances? Do you think Jimmy Haslam, whose truck stop chain has defrauded millions of truckers by skimming discounts on fuel purchases, is up to the task? The league may try to quash a sexual harassment scandal because of a few bad actors, but engaging in shady accounting practices is just something businessmen do, and NFL owners don’t. are nothing but businessmen.
NFL finances are a black box, but even so, I’d bet anyone with more than two brain cells already assumed that the owners of the NFL, and every other wealthy person in America, weren’t handling their accounts honestly. However, you can’t act on assumptions, which is why it could be significant if the committee actually finds hard evidence that Snyder kept two fixed books. I’m not naive enough to think such a revelation would get Snyder jailed, but it could finally reveal the truth about how business is done in the NFL. How will the next CBA negotiations go if the players’ association can hold Snyder’s secret log and say, we know you are hiding the real money from us? How will it be for the next owner who will beg for a subsidy for the stadium and who sees this investigation thrown in the face?
I may be wrong. Even if it’s revealed that Snyder engaged in some grand acts of accounting shenanigans, perhaps nothing will change and business will continue as usual. But at least we’ll know a bit more about how it all actually works, and even right now we can be sure to know that Roger Goodell probably feels like a total jerk for protecting Snyder for as long as he did it. It’s worth something, I guess.