Commanders refute report team withheld ticket revenue
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Commanders are denying a report that alleged they withheld ticket revenue from visiting teams, with the lawyer for a former employee responding by accusing the team of defamation.
A team spokeswoman said in a statement sent to The Associated Press and other outlets Monday there was “absolutely no withholding of ticket revenue at any time.” She added the revenues are subject to independent audit by multiple parties and “anyone who offered testimony suggesting a withholding of revenue has committed perjury, plain and simple.”
The statement came two days after Front Office Sports reported, citing sources, the U.S Congress’ House Oversight Committee received information to indicate Washington withheld ticket revenue. Front Office Sports reported at least one person gave information to Congressional investigators alleging the team did not pass along the full 40% of ticket revenue required by NFL rules.
After the team’s statement, the lawyer for former Washington vice president of sales and customer service Jason Friedman blasted the team for denying the report and accusing him of perjury.
“They defamed my client, Jason Friedman, who came forward at the request of the Congressional Oversight Committee and testified truthfully, with evidence,” Lisa Banks said in a statement. “Unfortunately, Mr. Friedman is unable to defend himself publicly due to contractual constraints that prevent him from speaking freely. He would be happy to recount his testimony if Dan Snyder and the Washington Commanders allow him to do so.”
Ticket revenue is shared among all 32 NFL teams, with 40% of it deposited in a visiting team fund. Such money is among the pillars of the league’s revenue-sharing commitment.
An NFL spokesman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Congress began investigating the team earlier this year after the league did not release a written report of an investigation into sexual harassment inside the organization. Front Office Sports and The Washington Post last week reported the investigation widened to include the finances of the team that has been owned by Dan Snyder since 1999.
Austin Hacker, the spokesman for Republicans on the Oversight Committee, in a statement called it a “leak of one-sided, unconfirmed, unsupported allegations from a disgruntled ex-employee with an ax to grind.” He added, “Nothing the Committee has heard from any credible witness points to any financial improprieties.”
Playing as the Washington Football Team for a second consecutive season, FedEx Field was often full of visiting fans in 2021. The team ranked second to last in the NFL in attendance just ahead of Detroit, averaging a crowd of 52,751.
The team rebranded as the Commanders in February and are in the midst of an eventful offseason. They traded for quarterback Carson Wentz, retooled their offensive line and own the 11th in the draft later this month.
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL