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Josh Harris, potential Commanders buyer, visits team’s training facility

Philadelphia 76ers owner Josh Harris, right, is one of two potential buyers of the Washington Commanders to visit the team's Ashburn, Va., training facility. (Matt Rourke/AP)
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PHOENIX — Josh Harris, a potential buyer for the Washington Commanders, visited the team’s training facility in Ashburn, two people familiar with the situation said Friday.

At least one other prospective buyer visited the facility, according to one of those people. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of the sale process being conducted by Bank of America on behalf of Commanders owner Daniel Snyder.

A spokesperson for Harris, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management and the owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, declined to comment. Harris also is a general partner of the English Premier League’s Crystal Palace Football Club and a limited partner in the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers. He grew up in Chevy Chase and attended the Field School in Northwest Washington.

Roger Goodell: Commanders sale is ‘their process’; no timeline on probe

He has an estimated net worth of $6.2 billion, according to Forbes, and tried to purchase the Denver Broncos last year from the Pat Bowlen Trust. That team was sold to a group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton for an NFL-record $4.65 billion. The league’s franchise owners ratified the purchase by Walton’s group in August.

Harris has been regarded as a contender to purchase the Commanders virtually from the moment Snyder and his wife, Tanya, the team’s co-CEO, announced in November they hired Bank of America to consider potential transactions for the franchise. The team has not said whether Daniel Snyder will sell all or part of the franchise, which is valued at $5.6 billion by Forbes.

The Commanders declined to comment.

“As far as the [sale] process, the Commanders are under a process,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said here Wednesday. “That’s their process. Ultimately if they reach a conclusion and have someone that will be joining the ownership group or buying the team entirely, that’s something that the ownership will look at.”

Any proposed sale would have to be ratified by at least three-fourths of the NFL’s team owners.

Initial bids on Commanders don’t include one from Jeff Bezos

The bidding process is taking place with the NFL conducting its second investigation of Snyder and the team’s workplace. This one is being led by attorney Mary Jo White.

“There’s no timeline given to Mary Jo White,” Goodell said Wednesday. “She is authorized to work independently. There is no timeline for her to come to any conclusions. When she does that, she will let me know and we will let the public know at that point in time.”

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said in October he and fellow owners should give serious consideration to voting to remove Snyder from ownership, which would require the approval of at least three-quarters of the owners. Multiple owners told The Washington Post in September they believed serious consideration would be given to attempting to oust Snyder from the ownership ranks, either by convincing him to sell or by voting to remove him.

Several groups submitted bids to purchase the Commanders before a late-December target requested by Bank of America, but none reached the $7 billion mark Snyder seeks for the team, a person familiar with the process said last month. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos sat out that stage of the bidding, according to multiple people familiar with the process. That potentially opens the door to other buyers interested in acquiring the franchise, although it is not clear whether Bezos intends to get involved. Bezos owns The Post.

Harris’s visit was first reported by the Athletic.

Sean Payton, the former Super Bowl-winning coach for the New Orleans Saints who just was hired as the new coach of the Broncos after being out of the league this season, said in a radio interview Friday that multiple groups interested in buying the Commanders inquired about his interest.

“Everyone’s waiting to see what happens in Washington,” Payton said on SiriusXM. “There was some interest from some potential ownership groups that are going to be bidding on, that currently have bid on that team, that were getting ahead of the game saying, ‘Hey, if we get awarded this team, would you?’ And so there were a lot of different things in play, right?”

Payton did not identify the prospective Commanders ownership groups that were interested in him as a coach.

“That’s a place that’s had great tradition,” Payton said. “Like, when I came into the league …. . . my first two years [as an NFL assistant coach] were Philly. My next four years were New York Giants, and then my next three were the Cowboys. My whole entire NFL career prior to New Orleans was NFC, NFC East. And what happened to that program? . . . Listen, that place, my uncle loved the Washington franchise. Last year we go there to play and pregame, I’m looking up in the crowd. A third of the fans are Saints fans. And I’m like, ‘What happened to this place?’ That was one of the six pillars . . . That was a special place. So it’ll come back.”

Maske and Jhabvala reported from Phoenix. Clarke reported from Washington.

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