AP sources: Harris/Rales group submits bid for Commanders
PHOENIX — A group led by Josh Harris and Mitchell Rales has submitted a fully financed bid for the NFL’s Washington Commanders, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because details of the bid have not been publicly announced.
The Harris/Rales group, which includes basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, is one of multiple bidders involved in the sale process. Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and Canadian billionaire Steve Apostolopoulos are also in the running.
ESPN first reported the Harris/Rales group submitted the bid, meeting Snyder’s $6 billion asking price.
Harris, who owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils, brought on Rales, a billionaire who also grew up in Maryland, just outside Washington, earlier this year. Johnson, who has ownership experience with Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers and others, later joined the group.
Last fall, with multiple investigations ongoing into the team’s workplace culture and finances, longtime owner Dan Snyder and his wife Tanya hired a firm to explore selling part or all of the team. That came two weeks after Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said there was “merit to remove” Snyder, which would take an unprecedented vote of 24 of the other 31 owners.
Selling the team would avoid going down that road, though the process has dragged on long enough that the situation may not be fully resolved by the end of the annual league meeting this week in Arizona.
Once Snyder accepts an offer, he must submit the bidder’s name to the NFL for approval. That hasn’t happened yet, a person told The AP on Monday. Three-quarters of the owners would need to approve any sale.
“I think he’s put the team up for sale. I believe that something is close to happening,” New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Monday. “I don’t know that for sure. We’ll wait and see what happens.”
Snyder and his attorneys have demanded that NFL owners and the league indemnify him against future legal liability and costs if he sells the team, a person told the AP. Two owners said they were angered by Snyder’s demand for indemnification but told the AP that they want to let the sale process play out before taking any action.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Snyder’s situation has changed their relationship.
“I think that it’s a little more formal, but I think it’s that way because of the various issues that are involved here,” Jones said. “It’s not ‘lovey-dovey,’ but it’s not really strained in any way.”
Snyder and the team are still under investigation by former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, who was retained by the league to look into various aspects of the organization stemming from a congressional review into workplace misconduct that also included a referral to the Federal Trade Commission for potential business improprieties.
A spokesperson declined to comment when asked if Snyder had refused to speak with White, saying it’s a confidential matter between the club and the league.
Whyno reported from Washington.