The Washington Football Team's power structure has drastically changed starting at the beginning of the year with the firing of Team President Bruce Allen, and the hiring of Head Coach Ron Rivera. This has been Rivera's team since his hiring, and he has worked hard to start the changes to the team's culture that he has advocated since day 1. The organization recently made two more significant hires with Senior Vice President of Media Julie Donaldson and Team President Jason Wright.
Rivera has been dealing with one major issue after the other since taking the job, and has handled it all as the organization reshapes itself and tries to move forward. The team's name change, sexual harassment controversies, player arrests, COVID-19, cancer, and the social injustice protests that have been going on since George Floyd was killed by police on May 25th.
Three months after Floyd's death, another police incident involving a black man has led to new protests in the streets, and in the sports world. Jakob Blake was shot in the back after a taser failed to subdue him. This has led to games being cancelled in the NBA, WNBA, MLB, MLS, and tennis, as players choose to sit out in protest.
The Washington Football Team announced last night through a statement from Ron Rivera that the team's planned scrimmage at FedEx Field has been postponed. The team will meet today as a football family to continue an "open dialogue on the issues of racism and social injustice in this country." Rivera worked with Team President Jason Wright on this plan, and got approval from Dan Snyder.
Today we canceled football activity for our players and staff to have dialogue on Social Injustice and reflect on the shooting of Jacob Blake. pic.twitter.com/MSRBAJekgL— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) August 27, 2020
It has been a very difficult day on many levels. After many conversations with Head Coach Ron Rivera and Jason, we have decided to postpone tomorrow’s practice at FedExField to engage in meaningful dialogue on social injustice. pic.twitter.com/7rGYYxDurD— Julie Donaldson (@juliedonaldson_) August 27, 2020
The shared identity of a football team often creates fruitful, perspective-changing dialogue on hard-to-discuss topics. Supporting @RiverboatRonHC & the team tmrw to talk about race in society.#RealTalk & #Empathy transform people, transformed people create a better society.— Jason Wright (@whoisjwright) August 27, 2020
On June 10th, Ron Rivera announced the team would be starting a series of townhall discussions to discuss the issues involving social injustice and racism in society. He also said the organization would be starting a Black Engagement Network that would "work with organization executives and leadership to provide support, education and racial equality initiatives in communities across the Washington DC metro area where our employees live and work."
I have been tasked with leading this entire organization and I have always believed in the mantra that actions speak louder than words. I wanted to share with you all our internal plan that will allow our entire organization to come together, let their voices be heard and ultimately take action. We have created a town hall program led by six members of our organization: Doug Williams, Dr. Monica Paige our team psychologist, our Senior Director of Player Personnel Malcolm Blacken, our Team Chaplain Pastor Brett Fuller, Coach Jennifer King who was formerly a police officer before shifting into the coaching world and Asa Winborne. Everyone in the organization from the front office and players to the ticket sales reps can take part in these discussions. These town halls will give our employees a chance to share experiences, build comradery with colleagues they may have not yet crossed paths with and ultimately come up with actionable items that we can do to make our communities safer for people of color. I’ve spoken at length with Mr. Snyder about these topics and he has agreed to kick start this program with a $250,000 donation.
We have also started the Washington Redskins Black Engagement Network. This network will work to strengthen the Washington Redskins’ commitment to Black employees through professional development, career management, mentoring, networking, an inclusive work environment and community outreach, while creating an inter-cultural understanding of Black employees.
B.E.N. will work with organization executives and leadership to provide support, education and racial equality initiatives in communities across the Washington DC metro area where our employees live and work.
These past two weeks have been a mix of emotions for me. I am saddened by how hurt the Black Community is by what has transpired. I am proud of everyone who is on the right side of this fight against social injustice. I am eager to help in any way I can in making a difference. Lastly, I am honored to work at an organization with so many people who want to change our society for the better. Black Lives matter. We can’t be afraid to say it. I will say it again. Black Lives matter.”