Irwin Kishner Discusses the Current Ownership Situation Involving the Washington Commanders

October 14, 2022 – Media Mention

Co-chair of Herrick's Sports Law GroupIrwin Kishner, spoke to Law360 about the barrage of bad publicity brought down on the NFL by the current ownership situation involving the Washington Commanders, which has fellow NFL owners calling for the owner's removal. Between league bylaws and the hesitance of those owners to set a precedent for their own removal, it is unlikely that the owner will be forcibly removed.  

The article notes the most plausible, concrete method of removal, would be three-fourths vote by fellow owners. However, the owners may not see his actions as reprehensible enough to push him out, despite a number of damaging revelations.

Irwin explained, "Snyder's been around for 23 years and survived a number of tumultuous situations. You would've predicted that it would've happened by now. The question is, what is the level of poor behavior that would make it happen now?"

The article goes on to discuss the rare option of a forced sale of the team. Irwin noted that, "You really have to be bordering on the egregious to be kicked out," Irwin continued. Yet while Snyder's deeds appear to fit that description, Irwin said, "He has friends in the league, and as long as he has those friends in the league, he's protected. To them, for some reason, Snyder's acts have not been rated at that level."

Irwin went onto highlight that even financial issue that are suggested in the ESPN report — that the owner has purportedly alienated the jurisdictions that could host a new stadium, and that team revenues continue to fall — would not necessarily push the other owners to try to remove him.

"It's hard to forcibly take a team away from somebody based on operational issues. The precedent in these cases has been really bad behavior," Irwin continued. 

Irwin went onto highlight that a bombshell revelation in the report — that the owner was gathering information on the owners and on commissioner Roger Goodell to use against them — likely has little actual influence on whether he can be forced out.

Irwin noted that "[t]he three-fourths vote threshold for removal is Snyder's most potent weapon against those who want him out." 

"You do have control when you need that 75% vote," Irwin said.

Even getting to the point of a vote is too extreme for Goodell and the owners to imagine, Irwin noted. "If it gets to a vote, it's Armageddon," Irwin remarked.

So even if the heat rises on Snyder from outside and inside the NFL, Irwin said, actually pushing him out in favor of a new Commanders owner is a long way off. However, that doesn't mean the other owners are happy having Snyder — who was added to their ranks 23 years ago — in the league.

"If the NFL could call a do-over, they probably would," Irwin concluded. 

Read the full article in Law360 here. Access may require a subscription.