Commanders player says franchise needs ‘fresh start’ amid Snyder sale rumors

Benjamin St-Juste has become the first Washington Commanders player to suggest that the team would benefit from an end to Dan Snyder’s ownership.

Last week Snyder announced he had hired Bank of America Securities to “consider potential transactions”, raising the possibility that he may sell the scandal-hit franchise.

In an interview with Le Journal de Quebec published on Saturday, St-Juste hinted that he would welcome a change of ownership.

“Since I arrived here, there’s been a dark cloud over our organization,” said the second-year cornerback. “Every time something good happens on the pitch, something bad happens off it. It would give us great energy to have a fresh start and regain the confidence of the fans.”

The Commanders have been hit by a series of investigations that have driven away fans and soured the team’s reputation.

In 2020, reports emerged that workplace sexual harassment against female employees was pervasive at the Commanders, and Congress is currently investigating the allegations. The NFL launched its own investigation into the claims and fined the Commanders $10m. There are also investigations in Washington DC and Virginia into allegations of financial misconduct at the Commanders, which the organization denies.

Last month, ESPN reported Snyder had hired private investigators to dig up dirt on his fellow team owners and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The Commanders denied the contents of the report, calling it “categorically untrue” and “clearly part of a well-funded, two-year campaign to coerce the sale of the team, which will continue to be unsuccessful”.

Snyder has also squabbled with minority partners before buying out their shares; delayed changing the team’s former nickname, which was widely perceived as racist; and taken criticism for botching late safety Sean Taylor’s jersey retirement.

Those off-field dramas appear to have hurt the team’s on-field performances. They last won a playoff game in the 2005 season and regularly play in front of vast swathes of empty seats.

Last week’s hiring of Bank of America Securities does not necessarily mean Snyder will sell the franchise. Snyder bought the Commanders in 1999 for $800m, and Forbes this year valued them at $5.6bn. Snyder could instead opt to raise cash by selling a minority stake or choose to do nothing at all.