Washington Redskins minority owner Mortimer Zuckerman said yesterday that he agreed last week to sell his approximately 15 percent stake in the team to principal owner Daniel M. Snyder.
Zuckerman declined to give a timetable for completion of the transaction. Snyder and members of his family--his father, Gerald, and his sister, Michele--own about 70 percent of the team. Minority partner Fred Drasner owns approximately 15 percent of the franchise.
"I think the Redskins are a great franchise, but my interests have always been publishing, real estate and public policy," Zuckerman said in a telephone interview. "I want to focus on the things I really want to do. This is a step in that process."
Zuckerman said he agreed to be an investor in the Redskins because Snyder needed his help as he hurriedly put together a bid after his former partner, Howard Milstein, withdrew from the NFL approval process in April. Snyder and his partners closed on their $800 million purchase of the Redskins, their stadium and practice facility in July.
"I was originally urged to join Dan and Milstein," Zuckerman said. "I joined when the situation with Dan and Milstein fell apart. Dan had only a few weeks to put together an offer. . . . This was an attempt to be of assistance to Dan in a particular situation."
Zuckerman denied that his withdrawal from the Redskins' ownership group is because of a strained relationship with Drasner, his longtime business associate.
"It's not true," Zuckerman said. "There's nothing to that. He's been my partner for 25 years. We describe it as the odd couple. We have done a lot of things together. Fred and I will continue to be partners in various ventures. We are going to continue to work together."
Zuckerman indicated he also believes that Snyder has to run the Redskins as he sees fit.
"Dan has a particular leadership style," he said. "He ought to have a chance to pursue that while I do what I want to do."