Two former National Football League executives are making the move to Major League Soccer, according to separate reports. Seattle Seahawks vice president Gary Wright will become Senior Vice President of Business Operations for the new MLS team in Seattle, which isn't set to join the league until 2009, while former Philadelphia Eagles vice president Bill Manning was named the new president of Real Salt Lake.
"Having an opportunity to experience soccer in Europe absolutely hooked me on the sport," said Wright, who will be in charge of the unnamed Seattle team's overall operations, including ticket sales, sponsorships, marketing, community outreach and charities, and fan experience. Joe Roth, the team's majority owner described Wright as "our first-round draft pick." Wright was involved with the Seahawks for 32 years, including 21 as a vice president.
Manning, a former executive with three soccer leagues, spent four years as vice president of the Eagles. He said the opportunity to work with RSL team owner and veteran sports executive Dave Checketts was an opportunity "too good to pass up." Said Checketts: "It has always been my goal to have the best franchise in MLS. I know Bill is the right person to lead us there as we enter our fourth season in Major League Soccer and prepare to move into our world-class stadium."