Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said on Tuesday that he believes "there's merit to remove" Daniel Snyder as owner of the Washington Commanders.
Irsay, who spoke to reporters at the NFL's Fall League Meeting in New York, is the first owner to publicly state this position. Snyder and the franchise he's owned since 1999 are currently the subject of separate ongoing investigations by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform and former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White, who is conducting a new review on behalf of the NFL, concerning allegations of workplace misconduct.
"You know, it's a difficult situation. I believe that there's merit to remove him as owner of the [Commanders]," Irsay said on Tuesday. "I think it's something that we have to review, we have to look at all the evidence and we have to be thorough going forward, but I think it's something that has to be given serious consideration."
The removal of an owner requires a three-fourths vote from ownership (24 out of 32 votes). Irsay was asked if he thought there would be 24 votes to remove Snyder, who was not in attendance at the meeting, as Washington's owner.
"I think potentially there will be," Irsay said, "but we will see."
Irsay said that there would not be a vote on Tuesday, and it was "hard to say" how soon one could potentially occur.
"I don't know how long it will take," Irsay said. "Certainly we're going to be thorough and look at everything. It could be at the March meeting -- I don't know -- but I know we want to be thorough and look at everything carefully."
Irsay's comments come less than one week after ESPN.com published an article detailing Snyder's alleged efforts to influence other owners and the league office to maintain control of the team. Per ESPN, Snyder has told people close to him he has negative information on fellow NFL owners and league executives, including Commissioner Roger Goodell. The Colts owner told reporters that he was not concerned if Snyder had any potential negative information on him.
"I don't know about that," Irsay said. "I could care less. You can investigate me until the cows come home -- that's not going to back me off. Private investigators or any of that stuff, to me, I just shrug it off. It's irrelevant to me. I don't know about any of that stuff, I just focus on the issue at what's happened in Washington and to me it's gravely concerning."
The Commanders issued the following statement on Tuesday in response to Irsay's comments:
"It is highly inappropriate, but not surprising, that Mr. Irsay opted to make statements publicly based on falsehoods in the media. It is unfortunate that Mr. Irsay decided to go public with his statement today, while an investigation is in process, and the team has had no opportunity to respond to allegations. The Commanders have made remarkable process over the past two years. We are confident that, when he has an opportunity, to see he actual evidence in this case, Mr. Irsay will conclude that there is no reason for the Snyders to consider selling the franchise. And they won't."
Snyder also sent a letter to NFL ownership on Tuesday, specifically denying the allegations made in the ESPN.com article.
"There is one allegation in the ESPN article that I feel it is important to address immediately. The article cited unnamed sources who said: 'they've been told that Snyder instructed his law firms to hire private investigators to look into the other owners' and Commissioner Goodell. That is patently false and intended to erode the trust and goodwill between owners that I take quite seriously. I have never hired any private investigator to look into any owner or the Commissioner. I have never instructed or authorized my lawyers to hire any private investigator on my behalf for any such purpose. And I never would."
Goodell told reporters on Tuesday there is no timeline for the completion of White's investigation. When asked for his thoughts on Irsay's comments, Goodell said he told membership "speculation without facts is not a very positive thing to do."
"It's an ongoing investigation," Goodell said. "It's what we've talked about. There were no interim reports. We have not gotten into reports. We do not provide any because we don't have any. When Mary Jo White is done with her investigation we will share that with the membership and share it publicly as we committed to before. And I was very clear with them there was no reason for there to be any speculation at this point in time or discussion until we have the facts, and so that was my message to the ownership and there was little or no discussion."
The separate investigations come on the heels of the league's initial independent investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson's firm, which found Washington's workplace culture to be toxic. Snyder and the team were fined $10 million, and the league said he turned day-to-day operations over to wife Tanya, but no written report of Wilkinson's findings was released.
The lack of a written report prompted Congress to investigate. Congress also hosted a roundtable in February, during which there was a new allegation of sexual misconduct made against Daniel Snyder by a former team employee. Snyder denied the allegation.
"I just think what's happened in the workplace (at the Commanders)," Irsay said Tuesday of what concerns him most about the team during Snyder's ownership. "Having three daughters, seven granddaughters, that's just not -- again, we have to look at the investigation and see the finale of certain things that happened because there's a lot of different things that have happened. You can't shy away from the fact of -- it's an unfortunate situation -- but I believe it's in the best interest of the National Football League that we look it squarely in the eye and deal with it. I think America and the world expects us to as leaders."
In April, Congress informed the Federal Trade Commission it found evidence the Commanders might have engaged in potentially unlawful financial conduct for more than a decade by withholding ticket revenue from visiting teams and refundable deposits from fans. A team spokesperson said it "denies any suggestion of financial impropriety of any kind at any time."
Congress later invited Snyder and Goodell to testify. Goodell virtually appeared at a public hearing in June. Snyder testified in a private deposition for more than 10 hours in July, the transcript of which has still yet to be released.
Irsay was asked Tuesday if there was anything that could change his current position on Snyder.
"Sure, you know, I said it was under serious consideration," Irsay said. "But I want to see the thorough investigation be put before us and see exactly what's going on including possible financial improprieties. I don't know if that exists, but that's another component that we have to see."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.