The Washington Football Team made a historic announcement on Monday by naming former running back Jason Wright as the NFL’s first-ever black team president.
Wright, a former running back who had spells with the San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns and Arizona Cardinals, will be responsible for leading Washington’s business divisions, including operations, finance, sales, and marketing.
The 38-year-old will report directly to Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder, who expects Wright to “set new standards” for inclusion within the organisation.
“If I could custom design a leader for this important time in our history, it would be Jason. His experience as a former player, coupled with his business acumen, gives him a perspective that is unrivalled in the league,” said Snyder.
“We will not rest until we are a championship calibre team, on and off the field. Jason has a proven track record in helping businesses transform culturally, operationally and financially.
“He is a proactive and assertive advocate for inclusion of all people and will set new standards for our organization, and for the league. There could not be a better duo than Jason Wright and Coach Ron Rivera as we usher in a new era for Washington Football.”
The hire comes a month after Washington announced that it would drop the team name ‘Redskins’, widely perceived to be a slur against Native Americans, from its name after 87 years, amid a widespread reckoning over racism in the United States.
Also last month, the NFL confirmed it is investigating “serious and disturbing” claims of sexual harassment at Washington.
A report in The Washington Post quoted 15 female former employees who said they were sexually harassed during their time with the team.
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The Post’s report has detailed dozens of instances of alleged sexual harassment and verbal abuse, citing interviews with more than 40 current and former employees, including the 15 women, as well as text messages and internal company documents.
The allegations, which span from 2006 to 2019, primarily include inappropriate sexual comments, unwelcome overtures and pressure to wear revealing clothing.
Snyder hired a District of Columbia law firm to investigate the claims and to review the team’s culture, policies and allegations of workplace misconduct.
In a statement, Washington said it “takes issues of employee conduct seriously and while we do not speak to specific employee situations publicly, when new allegations of conduct are brought forward that are contrary to these policies, we address them promptly.”
Wright will replace Bruce Allen as Washington’s team president. Allen was fired at the end of the 2019 season after Washington finished with a 3-13 record, which was the second worst in the NFL.
Wright will now work alongside head coach Ron Rivera, who was hired in January, to turn around Washington’s fortunes on and off the field and he is looking forward to the challenge.
During an appearance on Good Morning America on Monday, Wright explained: “Part of what excited me about taking this role – we had a phrase when we played that said, ‘you don’t talk about it, you be about it,’ – and I think what I’ve seen from Dan and Tonya Snyder in the hiring of coach Rivera and some of the decisions they’ve made, to have an independent investigator come in around the sexual harassment allegations, there are actual shifts in action to suggest it’s a new day, and that’s why I’m excited to take this on.”