The 2023 NFL Owners Meetings will be all about Daniel Snyder. The embattled owner of the Washington Commanders is seemingly on his way out after years of mounting scandals and embarrassments.
Snyder has put his team up for sale, and the question isn’t whether he’ll soon be gone from the NFL — but when, and how.
Will NFL owners remove Daniel Snyder? Has an NFL owner ever been removed? And how is an NFL owner removed? We explore it all.
NFL Owners Meetings: Will NFL Owners Remove Daniel Snyder?
It’s beyond debate at this point that Snyder has abused the public trust that is a big part of being an NFL owner.
His alleged misdeeds are almost too long to list.
Snyder has been accused of promoting a toxic workplace culture, and his long, sordid history includes the Commanders’ sexual harassment and discrimination scandal, multiple investigations (including one by Congress), and allegations of financial impropriety.
His peers in the NFL are fed up — as evidenced by the comments of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who said in October that there’s “merit to remove” Snyder.
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Two months later, Irsay said he wasn’t ready to boot Snyder from the club, instead saying a voluntary sale is the preferred course of action.
There has been progress toward that end, as evidenced by the growing list of potential bidders.
So it’s far more likely that, at least in the short term, Snyder’s fellow owners give him the space to orchestrate a graceful exit.
Has an NFL Owner Ever Been Removed?
No — but perhaps only because the person who would have been ousted took the hint and sold before it got that far.
In 2018, Jerry Richardson sold the Carolina Panthers just weeks after the NFL fined him $2.8 million for sexual and racial misconduct.
It will certainly be cheaper for a soon-to-be-excommunicated owner to sell rather than get the franchise stripped, particularly if the process involves a drawn out, but ultimately failed, legal challenge that potentially includes arbitration to determine the sales price.
What’s more, no owner of one of the major pro sports franchises has ever been formally removed. The closest one came was when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned then-Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life after secretly recorded racist comments by Sterling were made public.
Sterling’s family ultimately had him deemed mentally unfit, which cleared the way for them to sell the Clippers for $2 billion.
How Is an NFL Owner Removed?
The short answer is it takes a three-quarters vote from the membership (32 owners, so 24 votes).
But there’s far more involved than that.
The process is laid out in Article VIII, Section 8.13(B) of the league’s constitution, the provision that outlines NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s disciplinary power.
It would begin when Goodell or one of the other owners brings forth “charges” against the person or persons in question. The accused owner has 15 days after the charges are brought up to submit a response.
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Based on the results of that investigation, Goodell will then make his recommendation to member clubs. If the recommendation is expulsion, he calls for a special meeting — which is essentially a trial.
The jurors in that trial are the other owners. They hear the evidence — and there’s wide latitude as to what’s allowed to be entered into the record.
At the trial’s conclusion, the votes are cast.
The constitution states, “If the members vote to terminate the membership or the interest of any member in a club of the League, then the member club or person charged shall be required to dispose of such membership or interest in the affected club.”