ASBURN, Va. — When Jason Wright was hired as Commanders team president three years ago, he made NFL history as the first African American to hold that position with any team. That kind of change is what he has been hoping to make throughout the organization, and now with new owner Josh Harris, Wright has that opportunity.
"The energy here is intense and it's positive," Wright said from training camp recently. "We haven't had that since I've been here."
Wright and Harris have been fixtures at practices during the first few days of camp, something previous owner Daniel Snyder rarely did. The reaction from fans was also something new.
"I've never seen where the owner gets bigger cheers than the players," Wright said with a laugh. "But I will absolutely take it. There is a sense of relief that is immediately filled with excitement and energy to get to work."
Wright noted that season ticket sale requests jumped 3,500 right after the sale was announced and he expects that to continue to rise as the team takes the field and has some success. Overall, Wright says the team has sold more tickets for the 2023 season than they sold in all of 2022.
Even though Harris and his group haven't owned the team for a month yet, Wright reports the new support from the corner office is allowing his staff to engage with fans in ways they weren't able to previously.
"There are so many things that we wanted to do with this fanbase, but didn't have a counterpart on the other side [the ownership] that was willing to jump in with us," Wright explained. "But now, they're [the owners] here. They're here, they're willing and they're excited and it's the family coming back together."
That feeling extends further than just the players and fans as well. The turnover rate for staff inside Commanders headquarters has been high for years. Wright estimates that upwards of 80% of the current staff has arrived just in the three years he has been with the team. They now have a new and improved work environment which translates directly to their morale and productivity.
"The people who have been here working hard, those who believed we would get to this moment are now living in that moment," Wright said. "It does my heart so much good that we were able to create a culture to insulate them through that process where they can now excel and do their best work."
That goes for the players and coaches as well. Gone are the days when most of the questions aimed at them concerned off-the-field incidents and accusations. They can down get down to just concentrating on football, a change that will hopefully translate into more success on the field.
"NFL athletes, especially our guys, are extreme, consummate professionals." Wright said. "They are able to focus in moments where most of us would be distracted. That takes energy."
"Even though they would never say it, they would never use it as an excuse, the fact that they don't have to have other conversations about the team and the workplace, that's going to make a big difference," he said.
Wright and his team are working on the gameday experience at FedEx Field this year, improving the sound system, the concession options for fans, and hinted at other improvements that will be announced before the home opener against Arizona on Sept. 10.