History in The Making: The Washington Football Team Hires The First Black Team President
The Washington Football Team welcomed a new president, following the team’s transformative offseason with the change of the organization’s name from the Washington Redskins. Jason Wright, a former running back in the National Football League (NFL), was appointed president of the Washington Football Team on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020.
Wright attended Northwestern University in 2000 and played for the university’s football team, The Northwestern Wildcats.
The San Francisco 49ers signed Wright as an undrafted free agent in 2004, and he played seven seasons in the National Football League with the San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, and Arizona Cardinals.
Following his retirement in 2011, he received his MBA from the University of Chicago, which led him to spend seven years at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. His professional athletic and corporate experiences made him a suitable candidate for his newly appointed position.
Upon Wright’s new arrival with the Washington Football organization, he is tasked with a large feat of turning the football franchise around, after allegations surfaced of sexual harassment in the football team’s workplace, and a perceived toxic team environment.
According to the Washington Post, he plans to approach this leadership position with honesty, tenderness, and openness.
Wright’s newly appointed position makes him the first Black team president in the NFL, a role historically held by white men.
For over a century, the NFL has struggled with placing people of color in executive positions. The league currently has only three Black head coaches and two Black general managers, while 99% of executive roles in the NFL are filled by white men.
“I think it is a step in the right direction in terms of finding the right person for the job regardless of race. I think the Washington Football Team and other professional organizations will continue to move in their direction as well,” says Derek Bryant, the Assistant Athletic Director of Media Relations and Sports Information at Howard University.
“Women in a predominantly male sports industry are considered minorities as well. They should continue to look at the right fit,” he added while speaking on the importance of also including women in this male-dominated industry.
Wright is breaking the norm and opening doors for other Black sports leaders to come. However, Wright does not want to allow this accomplishment to define him, but rather his qualifications and his performance during the job.
Carl Francis, The Director of Communications for the NFL Players Association, told me in an interview, “ This opportunity for a person of color is very critical because it opens up doors to show that he has the ability and the skill set to be very successful in that position.”
“Whenever a person of color gets a position such as Jason it is seen as monumental…getting the opportunity is what is key because it gives everyone a chance to pursue something important in the history of this league.”
This new movement has pushed companies and spaces to be more inclusive, considering Black people for more positions.
Wright’s hire came during the height of America’s “racial pandemic”, following a summer of protests across the country fighting police brutality— and the Black Lives Matter movement seems to be more prominent than ever.
Jason Wright appears to be the asset that the Washington Football Team franchise needs to bring their team a sense of normality and unity within these unprecedented times. Besides making history, stepping into this role as first Black team president is a bonus to what he can already bring to the franchise.