Tag Archives: Daniel Snyder

Washington Football Team, NFL Join the 21st Century

Monday, the sports world got to witness history being made as the Washington Football Team hired Jason Wright to be their team president. Wright, who spent six years as a running back for the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, and Arizona Cardinals, becomes the first Black person to hold the position in NFL history.

Welcome to the 21st Century, Washington Football Team

Wright got an MBA from the University of Chicago, a psychology degree from Northwestern, and comes over from consulting firm McKinsey and Company. There he led the Black Economic Institute and developed their anti-racism strategies.

His business acumen and playing career make him a terrific fit for the position. That should not be up for debate. What is up for debate is how much credit the Football Team should get.

Washington and owner Dan Snyder have been under fire for decades for their old name and logo which they finally agreed to change this offseason under much pressure. The difference this time compared to other efforts was that it came from sponsors like FedEx making their voices heard. Snyder has even gotten calls from minority owners (some of whom were looking to sell their own stakes) to sell the team.

“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 unrivaled in the league,” – Dan Snyder per CBS News

If Snyder’s quote above were how he felt, why did it take the sky falling for this to come to fruition? Why in the 100-year history of the NFL is Wright the first? He certainly isn’t the first to be qualified.

And that is where the issue lies. The timing of the move casts aspersions on Wright’s deserving of the role. Rather than focusing solely on his accomplishment warranting it, that shadow of a doubt will follow him just as it has many Black people who assume positions of power. That doesn’t just pertain to the NFL either.

In a league where 70 percent of its players are Black and have been predominantly so for quite some time, this is far overdue. Much of the talk around diversity in the NFL centers around coaching.

While that is a significant issue, getting faces like Wright’s in those upper-level positions is just as important if not more; as we can see, people often hire those who look like they do.

That isn’t to say there is a conscious effort to hire one race over another. Rather, all things being equal, comfort with a candidate is more times than not the tie-breaker. This is true for all peoples, we just see the extreme in the NFL, a league with a troubled past when talking race and inclusion in general.

So, yes, we should be celebrating Wright and his historic accomplishment. But we should hold off on lauding this as forward-thinking. After all, in 2020 some would have you believe they don’t see race. Those same people will point to this as a sign of the times changing. What they won’t say is that the decision had to practically be forced upon an organization that was averse to modernizing.

Now with Wright, head coach Ron Rivera, and assistant coach Jennifer King, Washington can finally say they have joined the 21st century. Congratulations!

It’s All in the Name

In sports, your team name is (or at least should be) a source of pride, the symbol that brings people together to lift a team on its shoulders. It starts when we’re as young as five and lasts through the rest of our lives; cheering for pee-wee leagues, our schools, and professional teams. Some names even resonate with an entire nation and around the world, whether they’re beloved or despised. Some of the names that come to mind right away are the Cowboys, Yankees, and Bulls. Maybe you’ve always wondered how did these team names come about and if they will ever change. We know now at least one team had to.

All In the Name: Why So Long?

Redskins No More

On Monday, the Washington football team have retired their name and logo after 87 years. This after a decades-long fight over the offensive nature of the name to the Native American community. The issue even went to the Supreme Court in 2009 and it was ruled that Washington could keep the name. Owner Daniel Snyder recently doubled down on insisting the name wouldn’t be changed.  When sponsors FedEx, Nike, and PepsiCo threatened to pull their support, Mr. Snyder made a change.

If you’re curious, the term is offensive because it’s associated with the scalping of native Americans as a bounty.  In their culture, being called that is derogatory. It was only right to change the name with an unprecedented focus on social justice right now.

Will This Be A Trend?

It’s long been said that a lot of Native Americans find having sports teams and mascots named after and imitating them demeaning. In 2007, the University of Illinois dropped Native American mascot Chief Illiniwek after 81 years.  That fight that started in 1989.  Yet we have a few teams professionally that have those cultural monikers.

We have the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, and reigning Super Bowl champ Kansas City Chiefs; two baseball teams and a football team respectively.  The Chiefs at least seem to be more of a name of endearment but we’ll just have to see what changes are made moving forward.

Let’s Play the Name Game

Here’s a fun fact, the football team was not the city’s first professional sports team to change its name because of social consciousness.  23 years ago, the Washington Bullets changed their name to ‘Wizards’.  Rising gun violence in the nation’s capital brought about the change.  Their approach to the name change was unique as well, an 800-number was set up for the community to call in and vote on a list of names.  

What will the new name for the Washington football franchise be? Here is a list of suitable names that would fit.  Since both the NBA and WNBA teams have magical themed names, Wizards and Mystics, that’s where we’ll start.  The Washington Warlocks with there logo being a warlock character holding a football-shaped crystal ball (a personal favorite).  Next, the Washington Wave, crashing through the NFC East. Sounds like a fun start.  Lastly the Washington Wasps (that’s stings!).  That may be a reach but hey, there’s a pro team called the Pelicans.

What would your name be for the franchise?