SI:AM | How Much Longer Will the NFL Tolerate Dan Snyder?
Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. Dan Snyder remains the worst owner in the NFL.
In today’s SI:AM:
🦆 The Padres tie things up
⚾ The Braves get even, too
⚽ Jeff Luhnow’s new sport
This guy is the worst
Dan Synder is the worst owner in the NFL—perhaps the worst owner in all of major American sports—so why hasn’t he been forced out the door? A new report published this morning by ESPN’s Don Van Natta Jr., Seth Wickersham and Tisha Thompson sheds light on that.
The article clocks in at around 8,000 words, but the biggest revelation is this: Synder, according to the report, claims to have “dirt” on other NFL owners. From the story:
As a refresher, Snyder is beleaguered by several scandals, including a league investigation into rampant sexual harrassment in the organization that prompted a congressional probe. Snyder himself is said to have asked a woman for sex, groped her and attempted to remove her clothes on his plane in 2009. There are also allegations of financial improprieties. Perhaps the biggest threat to his continued ownership, though, is his inability to secure a new stadium for the team to replace the crumbling FedExField. The ESPN story quotes an anonymous veteran owner as saying the rest of the league would forgive Snyder’s alleged misdeeds if he could get a stadium built.
But here’s the thing: Snyder’s ownership of the franchise appears to be the biggest hurdle to a new stadium for the Commanders. State legislators in Virginia failed to pass a bill to pay for a stadium there after backlash from constituents upset that taxpayer money would be spent to benefit a man and an organization accused of sexual misconduct.
Other owners want a new stadium for the Commanders because the team struggles to fill FedExField, thus limiting the amount of money it contributes to the league’s revenue-sharing problem. If Snyder’s ownership is blocking the construction of a new stadium, thus taking money out of the pockets of other owners, why keep him around? According to ESPN, owners fear retaliation by Snyder. He is believed to have hired private investigators to dig into other owners and even commissioner Roger Goodell.
It sounds extreme, but it wouldn’t be the first time Snyder hired private eyes to try to cover his backside. According to a 2021 Washington Post report, Snyder hired private investigators to intimidate former employees who had spoken to the paper about the team’s toxic culture. And there’s reason to believe that Snyder is willing to deploy damaging information against his enemies. The ESPN story implies that Snyder or someone acting on his behalf leaked the emails between Jon Gruden and former Washington GM Bruce Allen that led to Gruden’s resignation as coach of the Raiders.
So what will the league do about Snyder? Owners are set to meet next week in New York and would need 24 votes to force him to sell the team. Snyder’s ouster would be the best outcome for the team’s employees and fans, and, in some ways, for the other owners. But are they willing to deal with the potential blowback?
The best of Sports Illustrated
Banished from baseball after the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, Jeff Luhnow has turned to running soccer teams, Stephanie Apstein writes in today’s Daily Cover.
In a thriller of a game between the Dodgers and Padres, Tom Verducci writes that the unlikely hero was San Diego’s 31-year-old rookie. … Kyle Wright came through with a stellar start for the Braves as they beat the Phillies, Emma Baccellieri writes. … Howard Beck explains why the Warriors’ decision not to suspend Draymond Green wasn’t a surprise. … Kevin Sweeney has been rolling out men’s basketball conference previews all week. Here is his take on the ACC. … Richard Johnson has an update on the college football coaching carousel. … After Sunday’s win over the Dolphins, Jets divisional round reservation prices jumped nearly 50% on SI Tickets. That’s the largest increase of any team after Week 5.
Around the sports world
Iowa’s Brian Ferentz, the coordinator of the worst offense in college football, says he hasn’t considered resigning. … Tua Tagovailoa will throw at practice but isn’t expected to play this week. … Troubled former Ohio State quarterback Art Schlichter has been charged with cocaine possession. … The fishermen accused of cheating at a tournament in Ohio have been indicted on felony charges.
The top five…
… things I saw yesterday:
5. The goose that delayed the Dodgers-Padres game.
4. Dansby Swanson’s basket catch.
3. Austin Riley’s catch near the tarp.
2. Dodgers pitcher Brusdar Graterol’s defensive play to save a run.
1. Mohamed Salah’s hat trick for Liverpool (the fastest in Champions League history).
I’m not going to make this a multiple choice, because I think it’s a pretty easy one. Today is the anniversary of the only walk-off home run in Game 7 of a World Series. Who hit it?
Yesterday’s SIQ: How many goals did Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews score in his NHL debut?
Answer: 4. Matthews became the first player in modern NHL history to score four goals in his first career game. He also became the first No. 1 pick to score multiple goals in his debut since Alexander Ovechkin in 2005.
There were actually two guys who scored five goals in their NHL debuts, but those records can’t be taken seriously. On the very first day of NHL action Dec. 19, 1917, Joe Malone of the Montreal Canadiens and Harry Hyland of the Montreal Wanderers each scored five goals. But the hockey was totally different then. Hyland’s Wanderers beat the Toronto Arenas 10–9 that day, and Malone went on to lead the league with 44 goals in just 20 games. No wonder the NHL considers its modern record book to begin with the ’43–44 season.
But back to Matthews. He scored with each of the first three shots he took as an NHL player. It was a sign of things to come, too. He’s led the league in goals in each of the past two seasons. It was also a sign of things to come for the Leafs, who, despite Matthews’s heroic performance, lost in overtime.
From the Vault: Oct. 13, 1958
The cover story from this issue is one of the most unusual I’ve come across while writing this newsletter. It’s an 8,000-word imagined conversation between a fictional veteran college football coach and a young man hoping to get into coaching himself.
It’s an elaborate setup to maintain for that many words, but I was surprised that the point the story is trying to make is still relevant today. Gerald Holland uses his made-up coach, Horace Jasper “Boogey Man” Blenheim, to illustrate how big-time college football coaches throw morality out the window to win and how they have too much power at the schools where they coach.
The article subheadline summed it up thusly:
It’s a question that persists in college sports today. Coaches have always had an outsized influence on their programs, institutions and even states. They run their programs with absolute authority and command staggering salaries that often make them their states’ highest-paid public employees. Too many of them engage in all sorts of amoral behavior to protect their programs. They aren’t all as cynical, underhanded and bitter as the Blenheim character, but if you were to condense 10 or 20 college football coaches into one guy, you’d probably get someone who sounds like Horace Blenheim—even today.
Check out more of SI’s archives and historic images at vault.si.com.
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