Dan Snyder: Journey to the NFL and Beyond



In 1997, the Washington Football Team were owned by Jack Kent Cooke. When he passed away, the team was sold in a blind auction by a consulting group. The winning bid was made by an investment group in 1999 and that group was led by Daniel Snyder. His path toward the NFL was one lined with plenty of challenges, but it was ultimately a rewarding journey.  

Starting Out 

With the help of his sister, Dan Snyder started Snyder Communications Inc. around 11 years before making the bid. With the help of his leadership, the company was able to skyrocket from $43 million in revenue in 1995 to $333 million in 1997. Snyder Communications made Dan Snyder the youngest person to lead a company on the NYSE.  

Snyder had been an entrepreneur from a young age, dropping out of college to lease jets to other college students who were flying out for spring break. He had several business failures, but he used those experiences to teach him how to avoid those in the future.  


Negotiations in Action 

Understandably, Snyder was not the only one with his eye on the Washington Football Team when it came time to put in an offer. Jack Kent Cooke had one surviving son, John Kent Cooke, who made his interest known right off the bat. And he wasn’t the only one.  

Hoteliers, MLB majority shareholders, investors, and even shipbuilders all made their interests known as well. The Washington Football Team franchise had proven its ability to make money for the owner, which is why Snyder knew that he had to go the extra mile in order to secure his stake.  

To that end, Dan Snyder partnered with Howard Milstein just a few days before the due date of the initial bids. This real estate investor was no stranger to sports, already controlling 45% of the NHL’s New York Islanders with his brother. While their first cash bid of around $700 million was initially rejected, their next bid of around $800 million was approved.  

However, this only got them through the first round of approvals. While they had the blessing of the Cooke trustees after making their bid, Snyder still needed the NFL to sign off on the exchange.  


Troubled Waters  

The NFL had several reservations when it came to giving Snyder and Milstein the go-ahead. In fact, Snyder and Milstein withdrew their offer because they knew they didn’t have the support they needed. But the reason why they didn’t have the support had little to do with Snyder and more to do with Milstein. 

Undaunted, Snyder began to look for ways to make the same bid on his own. With the help of his family and two of the original investors in Snyder Communications, he received unanimous approval from the NFL owners. It was a deal that would surpass any other franchise deal by more than $250 million.   

Loyalty and Commitment  

Snyder grew up watching the Washington Football Team, and his focus was not on the money that he would make from the franchise. The real value comes with the hope of every game and the inspiration that football brings to millions of people around the country. This distinctly American pastime is rooted in greatness, and Snyder received support from hundreds of fans to lead the team to their next victory.  

You can see this dedication in the steps he took to make his dream come true. When his initial bid was rejected, he was able to find another route to secure the team. And even if he wasn’t working professionally with Milstein anymore, he was able to save the friendship.  

The Years to Come  

Throughout his time at the Washington Football TeamDaniel Snyder remained respectful of Jack Cooke’s legacy. He was always concerned with how he and his company could uphold what he had started. 

Since Snyder took over, the annual profit of the Washington Football Team has increased significantly. In 2007, they only trailed their biggest on-field rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. Under his stewardship, the franchise added more club seats and suites, enlarging the capacity and increasing sales revenues. 

The traffic and parking situation around the stadium also became more streamlined, giving fans that much more reason to come to a game. His priorities and subsequent efforts have inspired other owners to take a similar tack.  

A Self-Made Man 

From an early age, Snyder has made it his mission to just keep going through every obstacle set in front of him. When one business idea or partnership didn’t work, he was able to try something else to get what he wanted. And yet through all of it, he never lost sight of the relationships that surrounded him and the opportunities he was given along the way. 


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