The Washington Football Team and owner Dan Synder have been the target of widespread criticism and often condemnation in the last six months as demands for a name change from The Washington Redskins reached an all-time boiling point.
They were the first professional sports team to come under fire for racially derogatory names and imagery since the current iteration of race-based societal tumult.
Snyder’s refusal and then reluctance to change the racist and offensive team name resulted in widespread fan and media backlash, demands to sell the team, caused sponsors to pull out, and even caused some minority owners to relinquish their shares of the team.
Adweek reported that a whooping 87 investors and shareholders, worth a combined $620 billion, sent a letter to three big dog sponsors–Nike, FedEx and PepsiCo—to support a name of change for the team.
A new name hasn’t been announced yet, but we know that “Redskins” will no longer be the way we describe Washington’s pro football squad going forward.
Being recognized as one of the most racially insensitive franchises in an evolving NFL isn’t a good look.
Jason Wright Smashes The Glass Ceiling
Hiring the first Black team president in NFL history definitely helps change that perception — and quickly.
Washington has named former NFL running back Jason Wright to replace former President Bruce Allen and with that one move, Washington has gone from a franchise considered stuck in the past to one of the most progressive in all of sports — at least on paper.
Jason Wright just became the NFL's first Black team president
Get to know him here:https://t.co/Aw8JFToRvi
— NBCSports Washington (@NBCSWashington) August 17, 2020
They have a Black quarterback in Dwayne Haskins, a Hispanic head coach in Ron Rivera and the first Black team president. Synder may have dropped the ball by being stubborn with relinquishing the “Redskins” name, but he certainly hit the trifecta with his executive and leadership hires.
“It’s personally an opportunity to bring together my two worlds in a very unique way at a very unique time,” Wright said in a recent interview. “And the fact that I happen to be Black and the most qualified person for this is a boost.”
Dan Snyder said, “If I could custom design a leader for this important time in our history, it would be Jason,” in a Monday statement.
Most Qualified For The Position
After spending seven-years smashing head in the NFL, Wright embarked on the next phase of his journey and attended the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the second oldest business school in the U.S.
Wright will be responsible for the business side of the Washington organization, including operations, finance, sales, and marketing, according to a statement from the Washington organization.
So, here’s a summation of all the other impressive things he’s done in his life aside from, you know, recently becoming a football trailblazer:
- Before joining Washington, Wright had been a partner at McKinsey & Company, which is a global strategy and management consulting firm. He was based in the D.C. area. There, he influenced top-level executives to help in environmental issues and was also a leader in McKinsey’s anti-racism and inclusion strategies.
- Like Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio, Wright will be able to directly relate to the players who walk through the organization’s headquarters in Ashburn because he, too, played in the league. For seven seasons, Wright was a running back, suiting up for the 49ers, the Cardinals, the Browns and the Falcons. He began his career as an undrafted free agent.
- While with Arizona, Wright served as captain and the club’s labor-union rep during the 2011 NFL lockout.
- As a college player, Wright was an Academic All-American at Northwestern as well as captain. He currently sits sixth on the school’s all-time rushing list.
- After retiring from the NFL, he earned his M.B.A. and graduated with high honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
- Wright is also a trustee for the Union Theological Seminary, where he assists the institution in better equipping its students with skills in entrepreneurship and community organization.
The Jackie Robinson Of NFL Team Presidents
The move is another seismic shift in the hiring philosophies of white-owned sports franchises and corporate conglomerates when it comes to trusting African-Americans with powerful, executive positions.
People who can’t or won’t relate to the plight of people of color in this country often say that they get tired of hearing about the lack of minorities being hired in sports and across the spectrum. Many insist that if “Blacks” were qualified for the positions they would be hired, but we know that is a false narrative.
Opportunity is the key to success. Black people have been shut out of leadership positions in this country at all levels because the ownership is majority white. This country was built on the oppression of one group for the ascension of another. And when the oppressed group dared to mobilize, unify or partake in this country’s robust financial landscape, they were oppressed, often violently by groups who refused to see them rise out of the ashes of slavery, poverty and oppression.
So while Black people have made tremendous gains in this country and the beauty of America is that rags to riches sagas are not uncommon, systemic racism is still a major roadblock to Black opportunity and success in America. Some will call this a desperate move by Snyder to repair his image in the aftermath of the name scandal and accusations that his organization was a cesspool of misogyny and racial and gender injustice.
As Wright reminded us, he’s the man best qualified for the job. It might have taken a bit of arm twisting and public pressure to get it done, but that’s just the price you pay for long overdue progress.