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Gaming the Bezos-NFL Silent Auction

There is an anxiety in NFL circles that Jeff Bezos has been keeping quiet before decisively pouncing on the Commanders at the last minute.
There is an anxiety in NFL circles that Jeff Bezos has been keeping quiet before decisively pouncing on the Commanders at the last minute. Photo: Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Theodore Schleifer
April 4, 2023

Over the last few months, the fog of confusion regarding the true intentions of Jeff Bezos toward his latest paramour, the Washington Commanders, has only gotten more foggy, more confusing, and more contradictory—complexified, in Bezos nomenclature. Bezos hired elite bankers, and yet they sat out the first round of bids. There were hysterical reports that he might sell The Washington Post in order to buy the team, but of course those were never true. Then there was the well-worn talking point that the current owner, Dan Snyder, would rather sell to the devil than the guy whose paper kicked up the reportage that compromised his credibility … only to be contradicted by leaks that Snyder was, actually, totally cool with him. Indeed, separating truth from fiction surrounding Bezos, a subject of tabloid fascination ever since those underbelt selfies, the Saudi strawman, and Lauren Sanchez entered the picture, has vexed just about everybody around the NFL, sources tell me, from other prospective owners to Bezos’s own friends.

Perhaps that’s just the way Jeff wants it. Almost as if encircling a coveted M&A target, like Zappos or OneMedical, Bezos has hovered over the entire sale process from the starting gun, but at the remove of a principal—refusing to make his intentions plain, preserving his optionality, and milking a will-he-or-won’t-he media circus that keeps everyone, including Snyder and other bidders, guessing.