Washington Commanders sale approved by NFL owners, ending Snyder’s run

NFL owners unanimously voted Thursday to ratify the sale of the Washington Commanders, formally welcoming Josh Harris to their ranks while bidding farewell to his controversial predecessor, Daniel Snyder.

The long-awaited vote at a Minnesota hotel came hours after the league’s finance committee endorsed the sale-and-purchase agreement, which was first publicly announced in May. League bylaws required that at least 24 of 32 owners approve the deal.

While the financial terms have not been announced, multiple news outlets – including USA TODAY Sports – have reported it is worth $6.05 billion, the largest price tag ever for a North American sports team.

“I’m incredibly excited and humbled by the opportunity to serve alongside my partners as stewards of this great franchise, on behalf of the city of Washington D.C.,” Harris said in a news conference. “One of my first memories as a child was walking down East Capitol Street, walking into RFK Stadium, hearing the roar of the crowd, feeling the rumble. … This franchise is part of who I am, and who I’ve become as a person.”

Thursday’s news ensures the Commanders will have new ownership as they embark on a new season, with the start of training camp slated for next Tuesday.

It also marks the formal end of Snyder’s reign in Washington, which spanned 24 seasons and featured multiple controversies and scandals – including a string of investigations related to allegations of sexual harassment, financial impropriety a toxic workplace culture within the team.

The findings of one of those investigations, conducted by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, were released shortly after the sale was approved Thursday evening. The NFL said in a statement that it was fining Snyder $60 million, or about 1% of the sale price, after investigators substantiated claims that Snyder sexually harassed a former employee and the team deliberately underreported revenues to the league.

The owners’ approval of the deal had long been expected, though The Washington Post reported that there were legal issues that needed to be worked through following the May announcement. The newspaper reported Monday that the NFL and Snyder reached an unspecified resolution on those issues in recent weeks.

The incoming ownership group is led by Harris, 58, who now owns teams in three of the four major American sports leagues, including the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers. The Maryland native serves as the public front of a group that also features more than a dozen minority partners, including billionaire Mitchell Rales and NBA legend Magic Johnson.

“Congratulations to Josh Harris and his impressive group of partners. Josh will be a great addition to the NFL,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “He has a remarkable record in business, sports, and in his communities. The diverse group that Josh has put together is outstanding for its business acumen and strong Washington ties and we welcome them to the NFL as well.”

Harris told reporters that he still has family members in the Washington area, including his mother, and plans to spend even more time in the community following his purchase of the Commanders. He described owning the team as a civic responsibility.

“This is incredibly important right now, for this city,” Harris said. “And I’m going to be remembered for what I do in Washington. That’s not lost on me. I’m all in.”

Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

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