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NFL owners approve Daniel Snyder’s buyout of Washington Football Team minority owners, source says

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Washington Football Team owner Daniel Snyder’s family has gained complete control of the franchise for the first time since buying it more than two decades ago.

NFL owners unanimously approved Snyder’s purchase of the remaining 40.5% of the Washington Football Team from the franchise’s minority owners, a source told ESPN.

The NFL also approved a $450 million debt waiver as well as the $875 million sale. Snyder bought out his three longtime minority investors, Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman, who have been with Snyder since 2003.

Before the purchase, Snyder had owned 40.459% of the team with his mother, Arlette, owning 6.5% and his sister, Michele, owning 12.55%. Now the family owns 100% of the franchise, which Snyder bought in 1999.

Snyder would have to repay the debt by 2028. The Washington Post reported in November that a group of investors had offered the minority shareholders $900 million to sell but that Snyder blocked the move.

The battle among the minority owners and Snyder spilled into the public eye this summer and continued into the winter, with numerous court filings as the sides accused each other of bad-faith dealings and spreading misinformation. According to ESPN’s Seth Wickersham, the sale will end the dispute between Snyder and his former co-owners.

Washington also is in the middle of a rebrand, having decided to retire its previous name last summer. It hasn’t yet settled on a new name or logo, but there will be a permanent one in place for the 2022 season. It will continue as the Washington Football Team this season.

The organization set out to improve its culture shortly after the Post’s articles. Among other moves, it hired Jason Wright as the first Black team president and Julie Donaldson as the senior vice president of media and the first woman to be part of an NFL team’s radio broadcast.

Washington also remains under an independent investigation by attorney Beth Wilkinson, stemming from a number of sexual harassment allegations by previous employees over a 15-year period. The investigation remains ongoing.

On a video conference call, New York Giants owner John Mara was asked if the vote signaled confidence that Snyder would be found of no wrongdoing in the investigation. Mara declined comment on that aspect, saying he’s not involved at all in the investigation but said, “I’m just glad it was settled between Dan and the minority partners so they can move ahead.”

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Washington Football Team monitoring Cleveland Guardians’ process on name change

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RICHMOND, Va. — If the Cleveland Indians endure any issues with their name change, there’s one team that could benefit: the Washington Football Team.

Washington’s president, Jason Wright, said he will monitor any roadblocks Cleveland encounters with its new name, the Guardians, in the hopes of learning lessons and what to avoid in the future.

Wright said once again that Washington will unveil a new name “in early ’22.” But even though the team announced its intention to adopt another name before Cleveland did, Washington could benefit by the fact the baseball franchise announced its new name first. Cleveland unveiled the Guardians on Friday.

“One of the things I’m continuing to watch is … what happens from here on out? What are the legal and trademark things that pop up?” Wright told ESPN. “How do they navigate those going forward? Just the little boogeymen of implementation that might pop up is interesting to me.”

Indeed, Cleveland also has a roller derby team called the Guardians, which could present legal challenges. The roller derby team has played in Cleveland since 2016 and owns the domain clevelandguardians.com. It’s likely the sides would come to a financial agreement in order for the baseball franchise to buy that domain, as well as other social media handles. Regardless, it provides a blueprint for Washington.

“It will never be perfect,” Wright said. “But I do want it to be as seamless as possible and of the quality it deserves so these little things, these gremlins that can pop up in the implementation process, is of great importance to me. Once we roll this out it needs to be something, irrespective of the initial reaction of the fans, that we don’t do anything to self-inflict making that process more challenging.”

Wright said he has long been in contact with Cleveland officials as they travel a similar path.

“I know they feel good about being on the other side of it,” Wright said. “They are confident, much like I’m confident, that the ties of the fan base are deeply loyal, that people want to believe the best about the franchise and the real work tends to happen on the back end of the announcement. How does the new name get integrated into the experience? How do you win consistently under that new moniker for it to take root? I paid attention.”

That’s why Wright wasn’t bothered by the fact that Cleveland settled on a new name before Washington. Wright was hired by the franchise 11 months ago and needed to not only help find a new name, but also put together a new business structure, which meant hiring new people with no ties to the organization. Cleveland’s situation was more stable.

“In an ideal world you do a lot of work before you announce the name change,” Wright said. “You do a lot of the important legwork and research well in advance of an announcement. That’s the ideal way to do it. We picked up something different and that’s fine. We believe really strongly that the process laid out is the right one.”

Like Cleveland, Washington must deal with an emotional fan base tied to a previous name that had been around for generations.

“Stewarding that is a heavy weight and a heavy weight takes some lifting to be carried properly,” Wright said. “To be able to be buttoned up in early 2022 and release a name fully fleshed out with new merchandise and swag and logos and mantras and aspects of the new fan experience and rituals ready to go, that’s the right time for us to do it.”

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Buffalo Bills WR Cole Beasley says NFL vaccine gripe is over differing standards, wants players to have ‘proper information’

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley, who has openly opposed the NFL’s policy on COVID-19 vaccinations, attempted to clarify his stance Wednesday, saying his gripe with the league is over the differing standards for vaccinated and unvaccinated players.

“I’m not anti- or pro-vax — I’m pro-choice,” Beasley said, reading from a prepared statement after the Bills’ first practice of training camp. “With that being said, the issue at hand is information being withheld from players in order for a player to be swayed in a direction he may not be comfortable with.

“When dealing with a player’s health and safety, there should be complete transparency regarding information that is vital in the decision-making process. Without having all the proper information, a player can feel misguided and unsure about a very personal choice. It makes a player feel unprotected and gives concerns about future topics regarding health and our ability to make educated decisions.”

The NFL’s policy, which heavily restricts unvaccinated players while allowing a return to near normalcy for vaccinated players, sparked criticism from Beasley last month, when he tweeted that he was not vaccinated and would continue to “live my one life like I want.”

The NFL policies include more frequent testing, masks and social distancing in the team facility and during team travel for unvaccinated players.

It was the frequency of testing, however, that Beasley was most critical of: Unvaccinated players will have to be tested daily under the policy governing preseason and training camp, while vaccinated players will only be required to test every two weeks.

“It’s common sense that if a vaxxed or unvaxxed player is tested less frequently, the likelihood of a player being pulled for COVID drops dramatically,” he said. “In regard to player safety, I’ll conclude by saying we all want to be safe.

“For so many players around the NFL, safety does not solely mean avoiding the COVID virus. Our health is the now and years beyond, which we are trying to protect with our personal choice while doing all the things we did in our protocol during a very successful 2020 NFL season.”

Bills general manager Brandon Beane briefly discussed the team’s vaccination rate Wednesday, saying it is just over 80%. Beane also said he does not believe Beasley’s or any other player’s comments about the vaccine on social media will detract from the team’s overall focus now that training camp has begun.

“Sometimes stuff gets out in social media — you don’t know how to interpret it,” Beane said. “You know, I’ve had a lot of conversations with some of the guys. … It’s tough. Guys are trying to educate themselves, they’re trying to look at all sides. But we’ve got professionals, and we allow them to express their views.

“As long as it’s not going to be a distraction, and that’s the point that Sean [McDermott] and I have both made. We don’t believe anything is. I think when we get out here, back on the grass playing football, you’ll see where our guys are focused. They’re focused on winning.”

Beasley had a career-high 967 receiving yards on 82 catches last season, his second with the Bills.

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Dak Prescott leaves Dallas Cowboys’ practice early with arm soreness, ‘did not want to push it’

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OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott left Wednesday’s practice early with soreness in his right throwing arm and is getting it examined.

A team spokesperson said Prescott felt the soreness early in practice and “did not want to push it,” but he was not concerned about it. The further examination is “purely precautionary.”

Later Wednesday, a source told ESPN that the injury is a strain to Prescott’s lat muscle.

Prescott went through his normal work in the early portion of practice and did not appear to have any issues. When the Cowboys moved to one-on-one work, he spoke with head athletic trainer Jim Maurer, who tested the quarterback’s strength.

In the first four practices of training camp, Prescott unofficially completed 50 of 78 passes in team drills. He was intercepted three times on Tuesday.

He has had no issues with his surgically repaired right ankle. He said he did not think once about the ankle following the first practice and he has not shown any problems running and moving in any direction.

With Prescott out, Garrett Gilbert took over the first-team snaps. He started one game last season after Prescott was lost for the season. The Cowboys also have Cooper Rush and Ben DiNucci at quarterback in camp.

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