It has been a tumultuous year for the Washington Football team, to say the least. There has been no shortage of controversy for sports media to amplify. But hope is on the rise as the tables are slowly turning. After the name change progress, the Ron Rivera hire, and now bringing Jason Wright on board, team owner Dan Snyder is proving his commitment to a ‘new culture’ within the franchise. Here is a look into the well-rounded attributes that affirm Jason’s aptness for the critical role he will fill within the Washington Football team.
The decision to hire Jason Wright made history, making him the first Black NFL President ever. Wright is a well-deserved candidate for a position this crucial to progress within the sport. After retiring from his 7-year stint as an NFL player, Jason received his MBA from the University of Chicago. Then, as a partner in the prestigious consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Wright co-authored multiple reports exploring racial inequity and economic exclusion in Black America. Well versed on the relevant issue, he addressed some of his concerns in these reports- focusing on the current COVID-19 crisis.
Jason emphasized the disproportionate effect on Black communities, referencing the disparity in median income compared to White families. “Forty percent of the revenues of Black-owned businesses are located in the five most vulnerable sectors — including leisure, hospitality, and retail.” These are industries that directly overlap with the NFL in many ways.
Wright does not take for granted the opportunities this position provides to create direct, meaningful change. “It’s important to sit in the moment and recognize when you’re the first person of color in anything,” he indicates. With the astounding amount of Black talent within the NFL, it is unsettling to see the lack of representation in managerial roles. He noted Romeo Crennel, Ray Anderson, and Anthony Lynn as some of the Black coaches and executives who served as “multiple touchpoints” early in his NFL career. “When you’re a Black player, and you see a Black general manager, subconsciously, it opens up the possibilities in your mind of what you can be as a leader.” Jason elaborated.
Jason has displayed both leadership and team-building qualities since his days on the field. Former Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely vouched for Wright, noting that he was willing to do the work. “When you’re willing to put in the time mentally and physically… you get a lot of respect from everybody,” He praised his former teammate, “With the issues that they’ve had there in Washington,” Feely says, “you need somebody who comes in with impeccable integrity to bring credibility back to that franchise. Jason will absolutely do that.”
Wright’s experience as a player, education in business, and expertise in the pivotal issues surrounding the team provide the perfect arsenal for the challenges he faces ahead. The mentality he has going into the job is exactly what the team needs. Wright gave insight into his strategy, stating, “it’s a little bit of the management and leadership approach that I bring to business.” He elaborated on the value of analytics, proceeding, “We tend to pay attention to the things we measure. So it’s important to measure the things that are most important.”
This data-driven approach to success is something Jason shares with Dan Snyder, which may have contributed to his decision to pursue Wright. While Snyder has faced scrutiny in the NFL for his shortcomings managing the team, the financial feats he has accomplished for the franchise are too remarkable to ignore. Before entering the NFL enterprise, Snyder forged himself a fortune through his various entrepreneurial successes in media, communications, and marketing. Jason’s Master’s in Business Administration undoubtedly caught Snyder’s eye early in the search for the team’s new President. While financial success is expected to be based on numbers, Wright’s statistical approach to culture change merges the two otherwise different challenges. He remarks on the analytical strategy, “That is the thread that you see through my prior research, and it’s a thread that you’ll see through the way that we approach culture at the Washington Football Team.”
After days of discussion regarding the position, Snyder convinced Wright to sign on. His recent recruitment of Coach Ron Rivera, the second Latino Head Coach in the NFL, helped Wright feel confident in Snyder’s commitment to progress. Recurring motifs in these deliberations included ‘inclusive,’ ‘open,’ and ‘transparent’- words that piqued interest for a man of Wright’s core values.
“In those conversations [with Snyder], we didn’t just talk about the rosy future. We talked about the mistakes we’ve made. I talked about mine. Dan talked about his,” Snyder and Wright sealed the deal after confirming their unified vision for the team’s evolution. “We asked each other provocative questions about tough topics. And the fact that we got to that level of transparency and openness really gives me a lot of confidence walking into this job.”
Jason is wasting no time getting his hands dirty. He spent the past few weeks speaking with many media outlets, detailing his initial plans coming into the job.
“We’re going to move it to a place where there’s a trust-based relationship among all colleagues,” Wright says. “There are a broader set of things that need to happen. I need to meet people. It’s critical for a new leader of an organization to talk to as many people as possible. And I’m for sure going to do that in my first 100 days. It’s important to listen because culture change is going to happen at the individual level, and me understanding the state of the culture today is going to happen at the individual level.”
Wright, who begins the position on Monday, remains unshaken by the enormous pressure he faces during this transformative year for the Washington Football team. This history-making move shows promise for Washington fans, who are counting on Daniel Snyder to guide the organization into redemption.