NEW YORK — During a discussion on Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder and the controversy that surrounds him, including an ongoing NFL investigation, commissioner Roger Goodell told owners they should wait to know all the facts on the issue before commenting.
He said having a public opinion about Snyder’s ownership before the facts are fully investigated is merely speculation and to avoid it.
And then Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay went rogue, telling reporters “I believe there’s merit to removing him as owner of the Redskins.”
Yes, the guy trying to uphold the reputation of the league used the team’s former nickname that Dan Snyder changed under pressure from some sectors who contend it is racially insensitive.
Roger Goodell Not Happy
All of that, predictably, did not please Goodell.
“It’s an ongoing investigation,” Goodell said. “There was no internal report. We have not gotten internal reports. We do not provide any because we don’t have them. When Mary Jo White is done with her investigation we will share that with membership and share it publicly as we committed to before. And I was very clear with [owners] here there was no reason for speculation at this point in time or discussion until we have the facts.”
Was Goodell surprised or disappointed Irsay had strong comments anyway?
“No, how do you like that?” Goodell said. “Speculation without facts is not a very positive thing to do. I think everyone deserves to have facts and make sure decisions are made with facts. And membership will have that opportunity.”
The NFL hired former United States attorney Mary Jo White in February to investigate former Washington Commanders employee Tiffani Johnston’s allegations of widespread workplace misconduct against Snyder.
White’s investigation has expanded to include alleged financial improprieties by Snyder — an issue that emerged during congressional committee hearings.
Goodell said Tuesday there is no timeline for the completion of the White investigation.
“When she’s completed it, she’ll let us know,” he said.
And in the meantime, owners are just like everyone else: reading ESPN accounts of Snyder having “dirt” on them and waiting for the report to drop.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, perhaps Snyder’s strongest ally among owners, was mentioned in the ESPN article. Sources quoted Snyder saying he had information on Jones.
“I’m not going to get into any issues,” Jones said. “We’ve all agreed we wouldn’t comment.
“But I know this, I’ve said: I have no knowledge of anything. And I’m brought up in the article. I have no knowledge of anything that has got any basis to it. Period.”
As he walked and talked, surrounded by reporters, Jones added: “It’s a media issue more than an ownership issue.”
Dan Snyder Reaches Out
Snyder was not at the Conrad Hotel in downtown Manhattan for this meeting.
But in something of an “Empire Strikes Back” moment, Snyder wrote a letter to all 31 other owners that struck a conciliatory tone while also defending himself from the allegations in the ESPN article.
Jim Irsay, meanwhile, seemed to show some concern that owners and the league are now poorly perceived because Snyder has somehow tainted them. Does Goodell agree with that?
“I do not agree with that perception to start with,” Goodell said. “I talked to ownership about knowing the facts. That’s why you hired Mary Jo White. She’s incredibly competent and thorough. And when she has those we’ll come back and ownership will make a decision.”
Goodell was passionate on this point when he was asked if Snyder is good for the league.
“I feel that everyone deserves the opportunity to make sure they know the facts,” he said. “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 investigation is and we’ll go from there.”
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