Attorney leading Dan Snyder investigation will oversee Browns tanking allegations
By Jerry Trotta
Though free agency is still open for business, most NFL fan bases are entirely fixated on the 2022 Draft, which is just one week away.
For Washington Commanders fans, though, they unfortunately have one eye on the draft and another on owner Dan Snyder, who’s currently under investigation by the league for the second time in as many years.
Initially, the polarizing owner was being investigated after former Washington employee Tiffani Johnston accused him of sexual harassment.
Since that probe was launched, the NFL lumped Snyder’s latest allegations: withholding ticket revenue from teams and refundable deposits from season-ticket holders, on top of Johnston’s claims to form a two-pronged investigation.
The added accusation puts more on the plate of Mary Jo White, the league’s independent investigator of choice. If you can believe it, White’s list of NFL-related projects grew to three on Monday, the league confirmed.
Already leading two separate Dan Snyder investigations, White will now oversee the claims made by former Browns head coach Hue Jackson that the team purposely tanked games during his two-and-a-half-year run spanning 2015 to 2017.
The attorney leading the investigations into Commanders owner Dan Snyder now has another project on her hands.
Given White’s resume, it’s easy to understand why the NFL defers to her as its independent investigator. Not only is she the former Securities and Exchange Commission chair under President Barack Obama, but he’s a partner at a New York-based law firm and led the investigation into former Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson that ultimately forced him to sell the team.
The hope is that White’s investigation(s) into Snyder will force him to sell the franchise. It’s unclear what kind of punishment the Browns will face if proven guilty of tanking, but Jackson is now at the heart and center despite retracting his claims.
Shortly after former Dolphins coach Brian Flores alleged in his lawsuit against the NFL and various franchises that team owner Stephen Ross offered him $100,000 for every loss Miami endured in 2019, Jackson, for better or worse, chimed in and argued a similar practice transpired in Cleveland during his tenure.
Essentially, Jackson alleged Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was “very happy” that Cleveland kept losing and implied that Haslam offered him hush money — seemingly not as much as $100k — to continue losing games.
Jackson’s Browns teams were some of the worst in recent NFL history and they finished a combined 1-31 over his first two seasons. The former longtime offensive coordinator was fired after the team started 2-5-1 in 2018.
Unfortunately, White will be hard-pressed to prove Jackson’s claims unless there is documentation that shows damning dialogue between Jackson and the Haslam’s or payments into Jackson’s account that correlate with the timeline.
It’s a longshot, but if everything falls into place for White, she could have forced three panned owners to sell their respective teams when all is said and done. That’d be one heck of a way to etch your name into the NFL record books.