Washington Football Chief Makes History, Faces a Culture Crisis

Jason Wright has a tough road ahead of him.

The formerNational Football League running back and McKinsey partner was hired this month as the first Black team president in league history.

He jumps into the position at a time when theWashington Football organization is trying to decide on a new team name, having announced in July it woulddrop the “Redskins” name and its logo featuring a Native American head.

It also faces sexual harassment claims from more than a dozen former employees, and is navigating the national controversy surrounding police shootings and racial inequality. This week, that included having a team meeting todiscuss racial injustice, in place of practice.

Wright, 38, discussed his new role and the challenges he faces on Bloomberg’s Business of Sports podcast.

“The first thing you have to do is, you got to get the fact base,” said Wright. “The Washington Post article is one input, but it also requires investigation to understand what’s real and what’s not.”

He was referring to aWashington Post exposé that alleged the team shot lewd videos of its cheerleaders during a swimsuit calendar photography session. There’s also ongoing sexual harassment claims by former employees.

“There’s most certainly stuff that’s real and there is most certainly stuff that’s not, or not in the same way,” Wright said.

Listen here:Washington’s New President Has a Difficult To-Do List

Drawing on his experience at management consultants McKinsey and Co., Wright talked about how he plans to do a quantitative accounting of the team’s culture.

The trick will be to apply “the methodology that I’m familiar with from before” to assess where the team has “open and collaborative culture, and where do we not have it,” Wright said. “There will be areas where we’re lagging on culture and the experience was poor and engagement was low, and likely productivity was low as a result.”

For his part, Wright, a Northwestern graduate who got an MBA at the University of Chicago after his NFL playing days, understands the challenge he’s signed up for.

“I knew that there would be bumps in the road, because I knew that there was likely more stuff coming. It hit sooner than I thought and with greater intensity than I thought,” Wright said.

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