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Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay says ‘there’s merit to remove’ Daniel Snyder as Washington Commanders owner

<i>Zach Bolinger/AP</i><br/>Irsay speaks during the Hall of Fame ring ceremony for Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James on September 19
Zach Bolinger/AP
Irsay speaks during the Hall of Fame ring ceremony for Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James on September 19

By Ben Morse, CNN

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said on Tuesday that he believes “there’s merit to remove” Daniel Snyder as owner of the Washington Commanders.

Irsay was speaking at the ongoing league meetings in New York City and fielded multiple questions about the controversial Commanders owner. Snyder’s time with Washington has been mired with scandals and investigations into alleged workplace conduct within the team.

When asked about whether he thinks Snyder should be removed as owner of the team he’s owned since 1999, Irsay told reporters: “I think it’s something that we have to review, we have to look at all the evidence and be thorough in going forward, but I think it’s something that has to be given serious consideration.”

For a National Football League (NFL) owner to be removed by their fellow owners, it requires a three-fourths vote — or 24 out of 32 owners — for the motion to pass.

When asked if other owners agreed with his sentiment, Irsay replied: “I just believe in the workplace today, the standard that the shield stands for in the NFL, that you have to stand for that and to protect that. I just think that once owners talk amongst each other, they’ll arrive to the right decision.

“My belief is that — unfortunately — I believe that that’s the road we probably need to go down and we just need to finish the investigation. But it’s gravely concerning to me the things that have occurred there over the last 20 years.”

Last year, after an internal investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson, the NFL fined the team $10 million and Snyder handed control over the franchise’s daily operations to his wife, Tanya Snyder. The NFL, however, declined to publicly release its findings, sparking a House Oversight Committee review in October.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell testified before a House Oversight and Reform Committee panel in June and said that the Commanders’ culture was “not only unprofessional, but toxic for far too long.”

Earlier this year, House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney charged that Snyder “himself fostered” the football team’s “toxic workplace” and then “conducted a shadow investigation to target his accusers, pin the blame on others, and influence the NFL’s own internal review.”

Maloney said that Snyder “fired women but not men who engaged in relationships with other employees, while defending male executives accused of sexual harassment,” according to testimony from former top team executives during the panel’s eight-month probe of the Commanders’ culture and the NFL’s response.

The New York Democrat said Snyder sent private investigators to former cheerleaders’ homes, “offered hush money to buy their silence,” created a “dossier” of communications from journalists, attorneys and former employees who accused the team of harassment, and tried to blame former team president Bruce Allen for the team’s troubles.

Snyder testified before a congressional committee for more than 10 hours in July. A spokesperson said in a statement Snyder addressed all questions about workplace misconduct, described the Commanders’ dramatic two-year transformation and expressed hope for the organization’s bright future.” The transcript of Snyder’s appearance has yet to be released.

When asked about Irsay’s comments on Tuesday, a Commanders spokesperson called Irsay’s comments “highly inappropriate.”

“It is highly inappropriate, but not surprising, that Mr. Irsay opted to make statements publicly based on falsehoods in the media. It is unfortunate that Mr. Irsay decided to go public with his statement today, while an investigation is in process, and the team has had no opportunity to formally respond to allegations.

“The Commanders have made remarkable progress over the past two years. We are confident that, when he has an opportunity to see the actual evidence in this case, Mr. Irsay will conclude that there is no reason for the Snyders to consider selling the franchise. And they won’t.”

NFL commissioner Goodell addressed Irsay’s comments on Snyder when he spoke to the media later in the day on Tuesday.

“We had a brief in our previous session. We had a brief report on a couple of matters, including an update on the Washington investigation,” Goodell said.

“It’s an ongoing investigation. It’s what we talked about. There were no interim reports. We have not gotten interim reports. We do not provide any because we don’t have them. When (former US attorney) Mary Jo White is done with her investigation, we will share that with the membership and share it publicly as we committed to before. I was very clear with them there’s no reason for there to be any speculation at this point in time or discussion until we had the facts. That was my message to the ownership. And there was little or no discussion.”

The NFL hired former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairwoman Mary Jo White earlier this year to investigate allegations against Snyder.

When asked if he feels that Snyder is good for the league, Goodell said he believes “everyone deserves the opportunity to make sure that they know the facts.”

“Speculation is not beneficial. I feel that strongly in my heart. But I also think it’s the right thing to do for anybody. Everyone deserves a fair opportunity. We’ll see what the results of the next investigation is, and we’ll go from there.”

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