The owners of the Washington Redskins have begun discussions regarding minority partner Mortimer Zuckerman selling his interest in the team within a year to principal owner Daniel M. Snyder and his family and minority partner Fred Drasner, sources familiar with the talks said today.
According to sources, Snyder and Drasner will purchase Zuckerman's 15 percent ownership in the financially successful franchise and will not seek additional investors.
Drasner and Zuckerman are partners in a number of businesses, including U.S. News & World Report, the New York Daily News and the business magazine, Fast Company. According to sources, their relationship has been strained recently.
Snyder, who has been a partner with both men in various ventures over the years, said tonight he could not comment on the reports. Neither Drasner nor Zuckerman were available to comment.
Snyder and his family currently own about 70 percent of the team, with Drasner and Zuckerman splitting the remaining 30 percent. The trio bought the Redskins last July from the estate of the late Jack Kent Cooke for an NFL-record $800 million.
Since the new ownership has taken control, the club's cash flow has increased by $15-20 million to around $60 million. Snyder associates said the team's owners always knew there was a possibility that Zuckerman would bow out of the venture eventually because he never had the same interest in the Redskins as Snyder and Drasner.
Snyder and Drasner are regulars at Redskin Park, the team's Northern Virginia practice facility, and attend all of the club's games at home and on the road. Snyder's hands-on style has been obvious from the outset, and Drasner's interest seems to have grown as the season has progressed.
Zuckerman, meanwhile, hasn't made appearances at Redskin Park and has attended games only sporadically.
"Anyone who knows Mort knows he has always been more interested in the social side of this than the football side of this," one person close to the ownership group said today.
Zuckerman did not participate in the recent purchase of an Arena Football League expansion franchise by Snyder, Drasner and Snyder family members. The Snyder family also owns about 70 percent of that $4 million franchise, which is scheduled to begin play in the Washington area by the spring of 2003.
Zuckerman and Drasner gave Snyder, the chairman of Bethesda-based Snyder Communications Inc., the financial backing to get his first major business started and have been close friends and associates since.