4:39 PM ET
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Washington Commanders president Jason Wright said the numbers suggest the NFL’s system designed to help minorities isn’t working well, but he added that there’s a quick solution to improving diversity in the higher ranks of an organization, including head coaches.
While addressing a crowd at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Wright, who is the first and only Black team president in the NFL, pointed to the Commanders as an example as to how to address the league’s problem.
Washington has a Latino head coach in Ron Rivera and a Black general manager in Martin Mayhew. It has the only female, Julie Donaldson, as part of an NFL broadcast team.
“I, in turn, have built the most diverse leadership team in the NFL,” said Wright, who was hired around the same time the NFL opened an investigation into the franchise for workplace culture and sexual harassment issues. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way. This is a low point [for the NFL]. It can very quickly get to a high point if a few folks are committed.”
The NFL instituted the Rooney Rule in 2003, and it is supposed to help minorities advance to higher jobs — for coaching and coordinator positions as well as front office jobs. Currently, there’s only one Black head coach in the NFL — the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ Mike Tomlin — and two others of color — Rivera and the New York Jets‘ Robert Saleh.
Former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who is Black, filed a potential class-action lawsuit against the NFL and three teams this week alleging racial discrimination.
“The system is not working well,” Wright told the crowd Thursday. “With a specific nod to the situation in Miami, I try not to meddle in other people’s business. I will say that if ownership is fully committed to diversity and inclusion, change can happen very rapidly.”
Wright said increasing minority ownership is a big priority for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. There are no Black owners in the NFL.
Wright said that leads to deeper questions. When he was a partner at McKinsey & Co., a global management firm, Wright focused on economic inequality.
He said systemic inequalities lead to fewer Black people acquiring the capital to own a team and that the challenge remains creating a situation where there are Black billionaires bidding on teams.
“That should be a goal for all of us,” Wright said. “Not because we can check some box or not because we’re trying to have optics, but because if we believe that talent is equally distributed by God among all people, but we don’t see equitable outcomes in society, then something’s off.”
Source: ESPN NFL