Wright, a former player and partner at McKinsey and Company, is the first Black person to hold that title in NFL history. At age 38, he’s also the youngest.
Wright joins Washington at a tumultuous time. On top of the issues the organization was already facing, earlier this week head coach Ron Rivera announced he has been diagnosed with cancer. Wright described Rivera as “a rock.”
“He’s doing great. Both physically, psychologically, spiritually, and I think you’ve seen that in what’s come from him,” Wright told “CBS This Morning: Saturday.” “It doesn’t change anything for me except that … I already knew we really need to take care of our people in a different way and do culture in a different way and be people-centric. I just needed to jump into that quite a bit earlier to take care of our folks because it’s hard for everybody in the community.”
In July, more than a dozen former female employees made allegations of sexual harassment against team officials. Subsequently, Wright has been called on to reshape the culture in Washington, something he says he has experience with.
“It is a big thing to undertake. But frankly, it’s something that every organization needs to do to remain high performing. And gratefully, I’ve been able to do that over the last seven to eight years with my former company, helping organizations get on that journey,” Wright said. “I think, fundamentally, it’s at the individual level about their mindsets, their behaviors, the incentives around why they do their work. And then transparency, a culture that shines a light on the behaviors that we want in a positive way and shines a light on those that we don’t want in the culture and help to move it into a positive direction. And we’ve also got to get things right technically in the process and policy sort of way.”
The team also dropped its nickname, Redskins, following decades of criticism. Wright said input from fans within the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area, locally known as “the DMV,” will be key in finding a new name.
“It’s so much more than a name. It’s so much more than a logo. It’s an identity,” Wright said. “And because it’s so important and because it’s going to inform so many things, we need to have an open collaborative, what I’ve been calling a community-based process. Engaging the fans, the ones who really embody the identity of the club out in the world. They need to be engaged substantively and over time. We need to get our players, staff, sponsors, and also the leaders in the DMV area because it needs to represent the DMV.”
“It’s going to take some time,” Wright said. “At the end, whether it’s the name that my friends want, or my kids want, or whatever it is, everybody should be able to see their fingerprints on the process and be united in the go-forward identity.”
All of the obstacles come amid the uncertainty of playing the upcoming season during the coronavirus pandemic. In spite of all the challenges, Wright welcomes the chance to put an enduring mark on the franchise.
“The opportunities to really shape things for the future of this franchise are massive. You know, we’re getting ready to establish a new identity. That’s going to inform the way that we impact the world,” Wright said. “Down the road we get to build a new stadium. So there’s so much that feels like you really get to put your imprint on something lasting, that it’s an exciting thing to be a part of.