Washington Football Team Hires First Black Team President In a League That's 60 Percent Black...Hurray!

Illustration for article titled Washington Football Team Hires First Black Team President In a League Thats 60 Percent Black...Hurray!
Photo: Atlanta Falcons (Getty Images)

In a nod to the insanity of institutional racism, the team formerly known as a racial slur has announced that Jason Wright will lead the organization as team president, making him the first Black man to serve in that position in a league that is 60 percent Black.

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The 38-year-old former running back will lead the team’s business divisions, including operations, sales, finance, and marketing, and he is also the National Football League’s youngest team president, according to the Washington Post. Wright graduated from Northwestern University with a bachelor’s degree and played seven seasons in the NFL before earning a master’s in business administration from the University of Chicago.

On Monday, the team whose name disparaged Native Americans for 88 years, announced that Wright would follow team President Bruce Allen, who earned his master’s degree in being the son of Hall of Fame coach George Allen before sporting a losing record at every job he ever held. (They didn’t use the same wording):

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The Washington Post reports:

Wright arrives at a tumultuous time for the franchise, which announced last month that it was abandoning its 87-year-old “Redskins” name amid sponsor pressure. Snyder’s three minority ownership partners, who hold a roughly 40 percent stake in the franchise, are trying to sell their shares. In a Washington Post story last month, 15 female former team employees and two female sportswriters described a culture of sexual harassment that had existed inside the organization, prompting Snyder to commission an independent review by an outside law firm.

Washington has been without a president since team owner Daniel M. Snyder fired Bruce Allen on Dec. 30. Snyder hired Rivera as head coach and to oversee football operations two days later, saying he wanted Rivera to be the singular voice who spoke for the organization.

Honestly, I think Washington should ride out with “The Washington Football Team.” I like it. It’s kind of meta. Like the legendary rock band called “The Band” or how the University of Alabama’s football team named themselves after the color of their necks.

According to the NFL’s 2019 report card on race and gender, the profitable sports league’s roster of players is 26.9 percent white while the list of people who held management positions in the NFL office was 10.2 percent Black. In fact, there are more white women vice presidents of NFL teams (70) than Black men (25). The NFL’s head coaches are 87.5 percent white. The assistant coaches are 66.4 percent white. C-suite personnel is 89.1 percent white. The general managers are 93.7 percent white.

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58.9 percent of NFL players are Black.

But Jay-Z got them to let Black people sing at halftime, though.

Anyway, one Black dude got a job.

“Oh, they’re hiring?” said Colin Kaepernick in a statement released to no one.


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DISCUSSION

I have very conflicted feelings about this, so feel free to check me. On one level, wonderful. Here’s an (overqualified) man of color, who makes most (all?) the nepotism-bots filling out executive jobs in other franchises look silly.

On the other, it feels like window dressing, and I’m uncomfortable with that. But should I be? Or should I celebrate progress in whatever form it’s delivered?