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Is Tanya Snyder’s ‘promotion’ a sign that husband Dan is running for cover?

NFL Inaugural Hall of Fashion Launch Event Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images

The Washington Football Team franchise announced today that Tanya Snyder, who is part owner of the team along with her husband Dan Snyder, has been named co-CEO. Mrs. Snyder has seemed increasingly involved, at least publicly, with the team and high-level communications in the past year or two, and this move to cement and formalize her involvement seems to confirm that her role in the family business has grown.

The official press release from the front office stressed Mrs. Snyder’s past involvement in many aspects of the organization.

Mrs. Snyder has been the steward of the team’s philanthropic activities since the Snyders first took ownership of the team in 1999. Her appointment as co-CEO formalizes and expands her leadership of the organization at a historic juncture as it looks forward to unveiling a new name and brand for the next era of Washington football. Mrs. Snyder is one of few female CEOs in NFL history, furthering the Washington Football Team’s commitment to being a standard bearer of diversity and inclusion in sports.

Her husband, who recently took full control of the team when he reached agreement to buy out three minority partners who together had held approximately 40% of the shares in the franchise, was supportive of the decision to expand his wife’s role.

“Tanya is one of the most important figures in this organization, and that has only become more true over the last 18 months as her involvement has deepened,” said owner and co-CEO Dan Snyder. “Publicly, many know Tanya for her incredible and impactful work in breast cancer awareness and her leadership of our charitable foundation. But behind the scenes, she has had a profound impact on the direction of the Washington Football Team. She was instrumental in our decision to evolve the brand and modernize our fan experience – including the entertainment team.”

The team’s official announcement stresses that Mrs. Snyder’s appointment is the latest in string of leadership changes for the Washington Football Team. The announcement touts these changes, saying, “Led by the Snyders, Head Coach Ron Rivera, and Team President Jason Wright, Washington has assembled one of the most unique and diverse executive teams in all of sports.”

Fans of the team can, indeed, be pleased with the changes that they have seen in the franchise over the past 18 months, but the catalysts behind much of the change have been ugly at times, and much of the change that has occurred has been forced on Dan Snyder. Pressure from the minority owners reportedly forced Mr. Snyder to drop the Redskins moniker that the franchise had used since the 1930s; news articles that shined a spotlight on workplace harassment of women led to changes at the executive level beyond those undertaken by Ron Rivera in his initial moves to clean house and eliminate the ‘damned good culture’ of the Bruce Allen era.

It may be that this latest change is a reaction to external pressure as well.

Lest anyone forget, the Beth Wilkinson report is expected to be made public soon. Attorney Beth Wilkinson was initially hired by Snyder last year to investigate allegations of wrongdoing within the organization, but that inquiry was eventually taken over by the league office when Snyder himself was alleged to have been implicated in wrongdoing. A court battle eventually ensued, with Wilkinson being accused by the team of trying to unveil confidential information via a court challenge regarding sealed information relating to a past sexual harassment lawsuit.

When the results of the report are formally submitted to the league office, it seems very possible that the commissioner could impose penalties on the team. If Snyder is seen to have been negligent or worse in his management of the franchise, he could be suspended from his role with the team.

If that comes to pass, having Tanya Snyder in place as co-CEO should allow for a seamless continuation of the business of running the franchise.

At this point, any discussion of Dan Snyder’s motives in making this move at this time is mere speculation, but the confluence with the expected final report from the NFL investigation seems suggestive.

One way or another, it seems that fans should prepare themselves for Mrs. Snyder to have an increasingly public role in the running of the team.