Jason Wright knows he’s expected to be an outsider as he becomes the NFL’s first Black — and youngest — team president.
The 38-year-old former running back is making history for the league with its record of white-only team leaders. Wright is also expected to help turn things around for the Washington Football Team as it attempts to claw out of a series of dire crises, including breaking a long losing streak, overcoming scathing allegations of sexual harassment, and an overall perception of a toxic atmosphere.
“Hopefully, having not grown up in [Washington’s] front office allows me to bring some catalytic thinking,” Wright told The Washington Post, whose predecessor was Bruce Allen who held the position for 10 years.
Allen’s father coached the Washington team among several others.
Wright added: “It’s the same reason organizations bring in people externally — to push the thinking, to have new, creative ways of thinking about things [and] maybe be a bit disruptive.”
Despite Wright’s years of experience on the field — he spent seven years split among the San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals — Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder wants him to apply his expertise on the business side.
Wright will be “responsible for leading the organization’s business divisions, including operations, finance, sales, and marketing,” according to a statement from the team.
Following his NFL career, Wright earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and spent the last seven years at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
“It’s a huge moment to bring those two worlds together,” he told ESPN.
“What other job would they come together at such a unique time for an organization at the point our team is? I’m just happy I landed in this role at that time. There are other reasons it’s historic, but that’s a byproduct of me being the right and qualified candidate at this time. All of that is just icing on the cake.”
Wright’s appointment is just the latest in a series of moves to transform the troubled team.
Last month, Snyder announced that the team will get a new name after decades of controversy over the franchise’s racist name which ultimately led advertisers to pull their support. That was followed by a devastating report in The Washington Post, including allegations from 15 women who said they were sexually harassed by team staff.
Other significant diversity changes include the hiring of Ron Rivera as head coach, making him the first Latino to hold the position with the team. And Washington also hired a woman to lead its communications division. Julie Davidson is now the team’s highest-ranking female executive as well as the first woman to be part of an NFL team’s radio broadcast.
“It’s a pivot from what’s been around in the past to a culture that’s being inclusive, that’s transparent, where people are able to thrive on and off the field,” Wright told ESPN, adding that it’s a “very exciting thing.”