The message was clear when the third annual NFL Quarterback Coaches Summit ended Tuesday: There is a strong group of black assistant coaches ready to be discovered and elevated to bigger roles, and it’s up to NFL owners to meet them.
This year’s summit, which was held online for two days, aimed to highlight and teach diverse talent in the NFL and college ranks in hopes of solving the lack of hiring minority NFL coaches, particularly on the offensive. Twenty-two teams participated this week, the most at the summit and only two teams in 2019.
Troy Vincent, NFL executive vice president of football operations, said the goal is to get all 32 teams to participate next year.
“The pipeline is full. The most important thing is to open the valve,” said Doug Williams, senior vice president of player development for Washington and MVP of Super Bowl XXII. “We have boys who are lined up to be head coaches today. We have three boys who have been head coaches and other boys who are ready to become head coaches that we think should be coaches right now: four or five of them
“From a minority point of view, there always had to be nobody in the pipeline. I think the problem has been that nobody has been investigating the valve. In the last two years we have shown that there are many trainers who are capable of being trainers quarterback, position coaches, head coaches, coordinators. It’s just a matter of timing. What has to happen from a property point of view, I think they have to look a little bit deeper. Same for the coaches, general managers. “
The current climate in the USA With the recent death of black men and women at the hands of the police combined with Commissioner Roger Goodell’s apology on behalf of the NFL for not doing a better job of listening to players’ concerns about racial inequality, he has put new meaning about the purpose of this year’s quarterbacks training summit.
Vincent said that given the “ugliness of the country”, he hoped this could be an opportunity for change in the league, with more hiring of black leaders and the way the protesting athletes look. He said “there is a better understanding” between the owners and the league office, adding that the country has a better understanding of various people, including former quarterback Colin Kaepernick and what he was “talking about,” what he was representing. , who was on his knees along with some of the other players: Anquan Boldin and Malcolm Jenkins. “
The call for more black leadership is not new. But it was renewed after Goodell’s Super Bowl statement of the week signaling a real need for change and action in minority hiring, and the recent changes to the Rooney Rule that the league hopes will have an impact.
In the NFL, there are three black coaches (Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers, Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins) and two black general managers (Chris Grier of the Dolphins, Andrew Berry of the Cleveland Browns ). Only one black head coach, Flores, has been hired in the past two seasons. There are two black offensive coordinators (Eric Bieniemy of the Kansas City Chiefs, Byron Leftwich of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and two coaches of black quarterbacks (Pep Hamilton of the Los Angeles Chargers, Marcus Brady of the Indianapolis Colts).
Those numbers are among the top reasons events like the quarterback training summit began. New York Giants co-owner John Mara said during Monday’s session that he hoped there would be more events like this summit to get to know black coaches better.
Many of the leaders at this year’s summit session were owners and head coaches, including Steelers owner Art Rooney II, Buffalo Bills co-owner Kim Pegula, Mara, the Tennessee Titans coach, Bucs coach Mike Vrabel, Bruce Arians and Lynn.
Some of the topics from the session and panel included the lack of minority training opportunities, how to prepare for different aspects of a coaching job, how to staff, collaborate with other coaches, leadership and winning culture, foundations of the position of QB and job interviews. There were also mock interviews for the head coach, offensive coordinator and QB coach positions on Tuesday, along with networking sessions on Monday.
The four black offensive coordinators and QB coaches – Bieniemy, Leftwich, Hamilton, Brady – performed at the summit. Given the current NFL trend of pressuring offensive coordinators and QB coaches for promotions, they also appear to be promising candidates for superior work. Bieniemy, in particular, comes from a Super Bowl LIV title with the Chiefs and has been interviewed for coaching gigs for the past two years.
Former NFL head coaches Jim Caldwell, Hue Jackson, Leslie Frazier, all experienced candidates looking for another chance, also appeared at the summit. Many of the other participants included proven NFL position coaches and college coaches looking for information on how to progress in their career.
There were other important nuggets from some top executives and owners during some of the sessions:
Baltimore Ravens executive vice president Ozzie Newsome said he was pleasantly surprised at last year’s QB summit by the number of current and former black offensive coordinators and coaches in the ranks of the university and the NFL. He compiled the roster, shared it with coach Jim Harbaugh, and watched those coaches last fall. He assumed that many NFL owners would be surprised to see the size of the pipe.
Rooney suggested that teams slow down their hiring process to create a more diverse pool of candidates while expressing hope that changes to Rooney’s Rule will help change hiring numbers.
Mara revealed that in the past he, like many other homeowners, had been searching for the hot young offensive mind, like Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, but that he has now shifted his focus to finding a CEO trainer instead of one who specializes in offense or defense.
Although the virtual nature of the summit did not provide opportunities for personal interactions with owners and executives, the comments from the summit participants on ownership and orientation were that the overall experience was positive.
Vincent revealed that part of the league’s seven-point mobility plan is networking opportunities. He said the league’s research showed that key insights from the interviews revealed a “limited informal relationship in a relationship-based industry.” The league hopes to have more informal networking opportunities for minority candidates in the future, potentially at league meetings, the combined NFL, and all-star games.