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The Washington Commanders could be sold for a record $6 billion

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington, D.C., NFL franchise the Commanders has reportedly reached an agreement in principle to sell the team for $6 billion. That's with a B, and it's an NFL record. And this comes after years of lawsuits, investigations and scandals involving Snyder. Dave Zirin, sports editor at The Nation, has some thoughts about this, and he's with us now to tell us more.

Good morning.

DAVE ZIRIN: Oh, it's great to be here, Michel. And it's a beautiful day. "Celebration" by Kool & the Gang is playing out of sports radio.

MARTIN: OK.

ZIRIN: People are shouting cheers from office buildings because Dan Snyder looks like he will no longer be the franchise owner of the Washington football team.

MARTIN: I take it you're not a fan of his, so why not?

ZIRIN: Well, I'm not a fan of his for the same reason that Washington, D.C., is not a fan of his. I mean, I - my wife actually teaches D.C. history, and I was trying to get her to come up with a more disliked private citizen in the history of Washington, D.C. - not politician, but private citizen. And we could not come up with one...

MARTIN: OK.

ZIRIN: ...In terms of universal dislike. And it has to do with 24 years of taking one of the most valuable, beloved franchises in the entire country, regardless of league, and driving it into becoming an afterthought, driving the stadium...

MARTIN: OK.

ZIRIN: ...Into becoming the 32nd-ranked stadium in the National Football League and driving a fan base to actually feel embarrassed about a team they once valued.

MARTIN: So let's talk - let's go forward here. But just briefly, as you've mentioned, years of lawsuits and investigations and scandals involving Snyder and the Commanders - some of those investigations are still going on. Could those affect the sale?

ZIRIN: I don't think they're going to affect the sale, but they could affect Dan Snyder's future because lawsuits are ongoing, Congressional investigations are ongoing. And a lot of this has to do, we have to say, with accusations of sexual assault and toxicity that ran through the team's workplace with Dan Snyder's fingerprints, allegedly literally, all over a situation where women were not meant to feel safe. That's the top-line story, I think, of why he's selling, although it might also be because, according to ESPN, he spent money to dig dirt on his fellow franchise owners, which maybe that was the bridge too far for a fraternity of people that have never hesitated to welcome the odious into their ranks.

MARTIN: What do we know about this new ownership group and anything about the terms of the deal?

ZIRIN: Very little. I mean, the owner, the new one, is going to be a hedge fund guy. The figure is 6.05 billion. I have no facts to this - about this, but there's certainly a rumor among the D.C. sports cognoscenti that that number, 6.05 - that Snyder wanted that 05 really badly because there were rumors that he was not going to get that magic 6 billion number. Now, if you're asking me, does it feel kind of gross that this person who did so much wrong in this city for 24 years is getting a $6 billion bailout? Yes. But sometimes that's the price for actually having a team that you can feel proud to root for.

MARTIN: Briefly, Washington ranked last in the league in attendance in 2022, second last in 2021. Turn it around - possible?

ZIRIN: This is the first step indeed. But it's going to be a long journey back. But at least the direction is in a positive direction.

MARTIN: Dave Zirin is sports editor for The Nation.

Dave, you got to learn to hold back your thoughts here. He's producer of the film "Behind The Shield." And I do want to mention that a team spokesperson declined to comment. Dave, thank you so much for joining us.

ZIRIN: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.