Washington Redskins Ownership

Daniel SnyderAfter the death of beloved and legendary Redskins owner Jack Kente Cooke in 1997, the Redskins ownership went into the hands of the Cooke estate, with the Redskins franchise to be sold and the profits to be for the Cooke Foundation.  In 1999, through an NFL bidding process, the group of Howard Milstein and Daniel Snyder won with the highest bid.  With financing and debt questions ruining the Milstein bid, Howard Milstein withdrew the bid, realizing that the NFL ownership would reject the sale of the franchise under the debt structure that was submitted.

Subsequent to the withdrawal of the Milstein bid, Daniel Snyder submitted a separate, independent bid of Milstein, along with partners Fred Drasner, Co-Publisher of the NY Daily News and CEO of US News and World Report, Mort Zuckerman, Publisher of the US News and World Report and Chairman of NY Daily News, Fred Smith, Chairman of FEDEX, and Snyder’s father Gerry Snyder and sister Michele Snyder.  The purchase was for $800 million, making it the highest purchase price ever to be paid for a professional sports franchise.

Daniel Snyder started Snyder Communications, a multi-billion dollar company in 1985, and built it into a worldwide leader in direct marketing and advertising.  Snyder Communications grew to a global advertising power, with offices in 16 countries, a total of 77 offices, and over 12,000 employees.  Snyder sold Snyder Communications shortly after purchasing the Redskins in one of the largest Marketing/Advertising sales in history.

Currently, besides his ownership of the Washington redskins, Snyder serves as Chairman of Ventiv Health Inc. and owns significant stake in Six Flags Amusement Parks and was selected as Chairman of Six Flags.

In 1999, the NFL ownership council unanimously approved the sale to the Snyder led group.  Snyder became the majority owner and effectively the fourth owner in Redskins franchise history.  In 2000, part-owner, media mogul Mort Zuckerman sold his stake to the majority group of Snyder/Drasner, furthering solidifying Snyder’s stake in the Redskins.  After purchasing the shares Drasner owned of the Redskins, Daniel Snyder and the Snyder family are sole owners of the most valuable franchise in professional sports.  Snyder’s sister Michele Snyder is a minority partner. Snyder’s father, Gerry Snyder, passed away a few years ago.

Dan Snyder, just 34 years old when he purchased the Redskins, got off to a fast start, changing Owner Daniel Snyderleadership and many employment positions inside Redskins Park, earning criticism from a skeptical media.  Despite the bad publicity, Snyder was named owner of the year in 1999 by Sport Magazine.  He also immediately started giving back to the community by forming a business charitable partnership that helps provide funding for vital community projects, The Redskins Leadership Council.  The ownership group also purchased a franchise in the Arena football league for Washington DC that will begin play in 2003, that debt was recently retired.  Snyder is actively involved in the management of the National Football League and serves on the Broadcasting Committee and the Venture Committee of the NFL Owners.

Snyder’s ownership was marred by media attacks on his leadership and ownership style.  He was branded with the likes of George Steinbrenner and Al Davis, a manipulative owner who can not keep his hands off the team, and who’s interference has consistently set back the Oakland Raiders organization.  Snyder’s decisions at times have been questionable and his business acumen have caused a media frenzy of Snyder bashing.  His firing of 30 employees upon completion of the sale of the team, the subsequent firing of GM Charley Casserly, the dismissal of HC Norv Turner during the 2000 season, and the signing of big free agents like Bruce Smith, Jeff George, and Deion Sanders, further produced negative media coverage.  Deserved or not, Snyder carried on with team business, never allowing the sharp tongued media to interfere with his decision making processes.

Snyder and MartyFollowing the 2000 season, Snyder brought NFL veteran Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer to Washington and turned the front office reigns over to Schotty.  Perhaps for the first time, Snyder made a contract he knew he could not live with.  Following the 2000 season, that saw the Redskins finish 8-3 in the final 11 games, Snyder attempted to renegotiate parts of Schotty’s contract to allow Snyder more say and involvement in personnel based decisions.

At the same time, news was breaking that Florida Gator’s successful Head Coach Steve Spurrier was preparing to leave the University of Florida and give his famous Fun-N-Gun offense a try in the National Football League.  With common knowledge that Spurrier had already tried to lure Spurrier before the hiring of Schottenheimer, Snyder, citing Schotty’s infelxibility, fired him and quick threw a 5 year deal for $25 million to Steve Spurrier.  Snyder single handidly provided the richest NFL Head Coach contract in league history.

The 2003 off-season brought back the original Dan Snyder with a twist.  Snyder may have spent a ton of money in the off-season to build up the Spurrier team, but he did in a different way than the ill-fated 2000 venture.  Snyder, allowing right hand man Vinny Cerrato to take the task, acquired numerous free agents and shook the NFL foundation by pursuing and opening up the restricted free agent market. However, this time Snyder went for free agents that were still headed to their prime, and went cheaper, allowing the Redskins to fill most holes from 2002, via free agency.   Despite a roster overhaul, the Spurrier Fun-N-Gun system was simply not meant for the NFL, and produced a dismal 12-20 record.

Fate then took a stunning turn for the Washington redskins, the Fans, and the Franchise when Snyder Snyder and Gibbsannounced that Spurrier was resigning and dropping the bombshell that he lured Redskins Legendary HC Joe Gibbs out of retirement.  The stunning return of Gibbs was at the same cost of 5 years for $25 million.  The move elevated Snyder in the minds of most Redskins fans, but more importantly, showed that Snyder had grown up as a franchise owner, not only naming Gibbs Head Coach, but Team president, stepping aside and allow Gibbs the opportunity to restore the Franchise to greatness.  After a 30 player roster turnover and a 6-10 first season under Gibbs, Snyder finally got to realize his long reached dream of returning to the playoffs, as Gibbs posted a 10-6 record in 2005 and led the Redskins to their first playoff berth since Snyder became owner in 1999.  The Redskins franchise is clearly on a positive upswing, thanks to Daniel Snyder’s and his move to bring back the great Joe Gibbs!

Summary of Redskins Ownership

Daniel Snyder 1999-Present
Jack Kent Cooke Estate 1997-1999
Jack Kent Cooke 1974-1997
Edward Bennett Williams 1970-1974
George Preston Marshall 1932-1969


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