A little over a month after the Washington Football Team held a jersey retirement ceremony for the late former safety Sean Taylor without giving fans more than a few days’ notice, team president Jason Wright explained how the significance of the event for the fanbase was overlooked.
On Friday morning, Wright joined 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies and talked about how the franchise lost some “institutional knowledge” when it made sweeping changes in decision-making personnel over the last year and a half.
“When you make change that quickly, you lose a little bit of institutional knowledge and you can definitely lose a lot of connection to the history of this club,” Wright said. “That’s something that has happened and we need to course correct…like the way that we royally F’d up the Sean Taylor jersey retirement. I’m so grateful that the family was blessed and so rewarded and so honored, but our fans didn’t get the right opportunity to celebrate that.”
Taylor played three and a half seasons for Washington before he was murdered during a home invasion on Nov. 27, 2007. The fanbase has remained devoted to the two-time Pro Bowler, who established a reputation as one of the hardest-hitting players in the league while he matured off the field as his career progressed.
The timing of Taylor’s ceremony also drew criticism. The team made the announcement just after leaked emails from the NFL’s investigation into the team’s "toxic" office culture revealed a series of disturbing messages sent by Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden to former Washington team president Bruce Allen while Gruden was working as an analyst for ESPN. Gruden resigned from the Raiders as a result.
Wright apologized to fans on Twitter at the time, but reinforced to the Junkies on Friday that the team is taking steps to ensure it doesn’t make similar mistakes in the future.
“Part of that is the institutional knowledge that we lost and the understanding that even if we had done a best-class jersey retirement according to NFL standards, that wouldn’t have been enough because this is a spiritual thing for this fanbase,” Wright said. “This is something much, much deeper and we needed a much more comprehensive approach and so we’re going to hire back into the organization and bring back into the organization the right institutional knowledge and connection to the history.”