Too much drama in Brian Davis’ $7 billion bid for Washington Commanders

OPINION: Team owner Daniel Snyder reached a deal to sell the team for a little over $6 billion, a record for an NFL team. But why wasn't Davis' higher bid taken more seriously?

A view of a Washington Commanders helmet on display during a press conference to introduce quarterback Carson Wentz at Inova Sports Performance Center on March 17, 2022 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Daily soap operas were TV fixtures when I was growing up, and more than a few of us could sit with elders and dissect “All My Children” or cold-blooded Victor Newman on “The Young and the Restless.” Alas, production has ended on most of those dramas.

Our attention nowadays has shifted to “As the NFL Turns,” a reality show.

He isn’t the first heinous owner to become a detested villain among his team’s fans, but Daniel Snyder recast the mold in the district formerly known as Chocolate City. He purchased the highly regarded Washington franchise for $800 million in 1999 and has trashed it ever since — winning few games, losing many fans and sparking multiple scandals. Under intense pressure to sell, with at least four legal or civil investigations probing his hind parts, Snyder reportedly reached an agreement last week

News flash: Regardless of how you perform as an NFL owner, a fat bag awaits at checkout. For Snyder, it contains $6 billion, crushing the record $4.65 billion that a Walmart heir paid last year for the Denver Broncos. Good for him as he exits the stage and D.C. celebrates an instant holiday. Josh Harris, who already owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils, is poised to become the Washington Commanders’ new owner. 

Presumably, that’s how the story ends, with another NFL franchise going to another non-Black owner. Yes, Harris added a little swirl by putting Magic Johnson in the group. But we saw that last year with Condoleezza Rice and the Broncos. OK, great. 

But then you learn another bidder, Brian Davis, offered $7 billion in cash for the Commanders … and he’s Black! 

That could challenge lessons we’ve learned and affirmed over the last four centuries. Even organizations with anti-Black policies are typically pro-green, too. They don’t consciously choose practicing racism over making money. Is the NFL really gonna leave a billy on the table, on purpose, due to pigmentation? 

The notion struggles to pass the sniff test. But if Davis actually has the money, aspects of this development are perfectly relatable. Being discredited and dismissed isn’t unusual among our tribe members, even those who possess impeccable qualifications. It’s like training the new employee for a leadership role that you deserved.

Davis should be hella mad if Snyder is using him to extract a higher price from Harris, who has a non-exclusive agreement. Ignoring headlines about Davis could be Snyder’s play before he eventually sells to Harris for more than the agreed-upon $6 billion.

Nothing like some good ol’ fashioned Islamophobia to put blood in the water. Front Office Sports reports that Davis’ funds “originated from the Middle East.” He refuted that charge in a subsequent interview with WUSA-TV in D.C. “That capital is coming from private investors who are located here in America who are domestic,” said Davis, who played basketball at Duke and briefly in the NBA. “I have a great amount of respect for the Saudi Arabian people and Arab people in Islam in general. I love them. But the money’s not Saudi Arabian and I’ve never been to Saudi Arabia in my life.”

Besides skepticism about his funding and partners, Davis faces apprehension about his background. Stop me if you’ve heard that before regarding Black men with shaky pasts. Overcoming that hurdle is daunting, no matter how much Davis plunks down or where it comes from. 

“I have made business mistakes,” he told WUSA. “But in terms of character integrity, what I can say is that, unlike most, I didn’t file for bankruptcy. I actually sold my assets to pay everyone back.”

Integrity is relative, but how can we put this nicely? 

Davis has been a hot mess. 

He and former Duke teammate Christian Laettner agreed to purchase the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves for $360 million in 2006. But the deal sunk when they couldn’t produce the money. The pair also has faced several civil investigations centered on their business and real estate ventures. Call it a spotty track record.

It’s possible that Davis has learned his lessons and turned around. He wouldn’t be the first person to straighten up and fly right. And he wouldn’t be the first whose past is continually used to restrict his present. If so, Davis merits all the rage and righteous indignation we can muster for the NFL for doing NFL things.

Too bad he’s such a shadowy figure. Hard to blame the league for being a little skittish. 

He’s identified as the owner of Urban Echo Energy LLC, “a LEED-certified developer of renewable energy assets,” according to documents obtained by WUSA. But aside from a solitary business listing filed in March 2022, SB Nation reports that Urban Echo Energy isn’t found anywhere within a 10-year custom Google search. Worse for those of who’d gladly cape for Davis, the United States Green Building Council has no mention of him, his company or the firm’s CEO. 

I get flying under the radar; that’s flying underground. 

Props if he’s done so while successfully accumulating at least $2.1 billion of his own money. Davis needs to personally fund that amount — 30% of his purchase price — to qualify as a primary NFL owner. He did himself no favors Wednesday in an extended interview on 106.7 The Fan in D.C. 

“I’m going to show Mr. Snyder that my partners allow me to have 10 and a half billion in my account,” he said. “Seven billion to Mr. and Mrs. Snyder, two billion for the liquidity requirement, one billion to begin the restoration of the stadium. … It’s my money because I sold my intellectual property.”

This soap opera has become infuriating. I’m angry at Davis if he’s faking, angry at news reports if they’ve raised false hope and angry at the NFL if, for a change, I have to take the league’s side.

Can Davis eventually prove himself legit? Will he ultimately go down as a fraud like John Spano, who “owned” the NHL’s New York Islanders for a minute before his scheme crumbled? Is owning an NFL team a pipe dream never to be realized if you’re Black? At least D.C. will be free of Snyder and that’s a win however this plays out. 

Tune in tomorrow and each day for another episode of “As the NFL Turns.” 

Can’t wait to see what’s next for Lamar Jackson after Jalen Hurts’ new contract.

Deron Snyder, from Brooklyn, is an award-winning columnist who lives near D.C. and pledged Alpha at HU-You Know! He’s reaching high, lying low, moving on, pushing off, keeping up, and throwing down. Got it? Get more at

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today!