The Washington Football Team has named Jason Wright the franchise’s new president. He becomes the first black team president in NFL history.
Wright will head the financial side of the organization, including sales and marketing.
“This team, at this time, is an ideal opportunity for me,” Wright said in a statement. “The transformation of the Washington Football Team is happening across all aspects of the organization—from football to operations to branding to culture—and will make us a truly modern and aspirational franchise. We want to set new standards for the NFL.”
Across the league, the news was met with appreciation at the importance of the moment among several current and former black team executives.
“As the day has gone on the historic part of it has started to creep in,” Wright said in an interview with Sportico. “When you’re the first person of color, it’s important. But you also think of the people who came before you.
Louis Riddick, a current ESPN analyst who played for four NFL teams and was a director of pro personnel for the Eagles, told Sportico the hire is historically significant.
“It’s huge,” said Riddick, “it’s progress.”
Several of those executives also stated privately the key for Wright would be if owner Dan Snyder would give him full autonomy.
The organization is undergoing a complete overhaul. It recently ended the use of the “Redskins” nickname, a dictionary-defined racial slur.
The team is also conducting an internal investigation into numerous accusations of sexual harassment levied by 15 female employees, who described to The Washington Post a work environment rife with inappropriate and verbally abusive behavior. The team hired attorney Beth Wilkinson to investigate the claims; her examination is ongoing.
Wright spent seven years as a player with the Browns, Cardinals, 49ers and Falcons. He’s followed a similar path as other black executives, who have made the transition from player to the front office.
“There were several cracks in the glass ceiling made before by others that allowed someone like me to come along,” he said, while also echoing the sentiment some NFL front office people of color have privately made before, saying front office representation needs to better reflect the number of African Americans on the field.
Wright has the additional experience of working for McKinsey & Company, where he was a partner in the organization’s operations division.
During the 2011 lockout, Wright was player representative for the union.