ASHBURN, Va. — Anheuser-Busch, a key sponsor of the NFL, severed ties with the Washington Commanders on Friday, though no reason was cited for the decision.
Anheuser-Busch, which has sponsored the NFL for a decade and also has partnerships with 26 other teams, said in a statement to the Washington Post that it had decided not to renew ties with Washington “at this time.”
It comes as the NFL, and Congress, continues to investigate owner Dan Snyder after new allegations of sexual misconduct were made two months ago. Whether that played a factor in the beer company’s decision remains unknown.
“We remain fully committed to Washington football fans, and we look forward to continuing our long-term partnership with the NFL and our other 26 team partners to create meaningful experiences and connections for fans across the country,” a spokesperson told the Washington Post.
It’s the third sponsor in the past year that has cut ties with Washington. The other two were based in Northern Virginia: Medliminal, a medical bill review company; and Inova, a health care provider that cut its sponsorship short. Inova signed a 10-year agreement with the franchise in 2016 but ended its relationship at the end of 2021. Inova’s cancer facility is named for one of Washington’s former minority owners, Dwight C. Schar. He was embroiled in a bitter legal battle with Snyder and sold his shares to him.
In a statement to ESPN, a Commanders team spokesperson said, “We’re exploring options in the alcohol category and looking for a strategic partner that will join us in the next era of Washington Football, as we play our first season as the Washington Commanders and prepare to develop a new venue. The team believes there is tremendous upside in the alcohol sponsorship category for the Commanders.”
A website called boycottdan.com was started in February, designed to pressure sponsors into cutting ties with the franchise, drawing upon what its creators saw as a success in getting the name of the franchise changed. According to an email posted on the site, Medliminal pulled out of its sponsorship deal because it was “disappointed in the Commander’s handling of both facts and allegations surrounding the organization.”
In June 2020, major sponsors, including FedEx and Nike, said they would stop sponsoring the team if the franchise’s former name was not changed. Shortly thereafter, the team announced it would retire the name and its associated Native American imagery.
Later that summer, multiple Washington Post stories detailed sexual harassment allegations by members of the organization, all of whom either left or were fired. After an investigation in which no report was made public, the NFL fined Washington $10 million.
But the House Committee on Oversight and Reform launched its own investigation in October. Congress held a roundtable session in February during which a former Washington employee accused Snyder of putting his hand on her leg under the table during a dinner. Later, she said, he tried to force her into his limousine.
Snyder denied the allegations; the NFL’s investigation into the matter remains ongoing.