By Heron Gonzales (They, Them, Their)
Sports diversity still has many glass ceilings to shatter but former NFL player Jason Wright shattered a big one earlier this year to become the NFL’s first Black team president in the league’s 100-year history.
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The Washington Team has been mired in chaos and controversy for years. Not only is Wright’s hiring an historic moment for the Black community’s upward mobility but for the Native American community, the long-contested offensive team logo and nickname are now gone, and for women employees past and present, allegations of workplace sexual harassment are now being taken seriously.
Only 38 years old, Wright is not only the youngest NFL team president, he’s also just one of four former players to hold this position. He has made it clear that a cultural transformation of the entire team is underway, one that will enhance and expand the value of the franchise. He truly believes in transparency and inclusion as well as accountability and realizes he’s an agent of change for Washington.
Wright is in charge of the team’s business operations and that enables coach Ron Rivera to concentrate on decisions made on the field. The two men are expected to have a strong working relationship based on their positive longtime relationship that goes back to Wright’s NFL playing days.
Wright was an athlete from early on and played football and track at his California high school. His family was working class and Wright has often talked about the work ethic his family instilled in him. Following high school Wright attended Northwestern University where his athletic performance was strong enough to earn him the Bobby Bowden Award presented by the University’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Second-team All-Big Ten Awards in 2003.
Although Wright was not drafted by the NFL after college, he would go on to play seven NFL seasons. Initially signed by the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent in April 2004, he was cut so the team could reach its 53-player regular season limit. Following his time with the 49ers Wright was signed by the Atlanta Falcons to their active roster. He made his official NFL debut in December 2004 but was waived the following September.
Less than two weeks after leaving the Falcons, Wright found his way to the Cleveland Browns. Wright played with the Browns through the 2008 NFL season and then signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. At the end of that contract he refused a multi-million-dollar extension and officially retired as an NFL player. He knew it was time to develop some of his other gifts.
After leaving the NFL Wright enrolled at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He graduated in 2013 with an MBA focusing in operations and finance and joined the international consulting firm McKinsey & Company as a partner in Operations Practice where he served as a diversity and inclusion consultant. He has been considered a “business whiz.”
In his personal life Wright and his wife, Tiffany are considered to be very generous. They have four children: two biological children and two women now in their mid-twenties (they joined the Wright family as struggling teenagers and each have a child) and they also have two grandchildren. Wright says the family works to make the world a better place.
The Washington Football Team made sports diversity history twice in 2020 —once by renaming its team and once by hiring Wright as president. Good choices all around. Now that the ceiling is officially shattered for the first time in the NFL’s 100-year history, we are excited to see the next Black president take his, her or their place alongside Wright in NFL history.