NFL hits highs in various settings, lacks head coaches

PHOENIX (AP) — The NFL has taken another step at owner meetings to increase diversity across the league while continuing to face criticism and a lawsuit over lack of representation among head coaches.

Each team must now have a person in charge of diversity, equity and inclusion. Currently 15 clubs have a DEI manager and another two have someone heading that department and another.

“They actually have to have specific roles and deliverables that are in their job description, so that’s a big thing,” NFL manager Jonathan Beane said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The reason why this is so important is that we need to have a single point of accountability at clubs where they focus on driving across their organisation, in football operations and coaching, in business operations, engaging with ownership to ensure it’s a priority across a club’s ecosystem.

The league has reached milestones in various front office hires, but critics point to where there are only three black head coaches in a sport that had 56.4% black players in 2022.

The NFL now has seven minority team presidents, including five black and three women, and nine general managers, including eight black men.

But there are six minority head coaches in total. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and DeMeco Ryans (Houston Texans) give the league three black head coaches entering a season for the fifth straight year.

“While increased diversity in managerial roles could lead to increased diversity on the sidelines, progress on this front has remained stagnant for years,” said Devan Rawlings, author of the NFL report from Revelio Labs. “The NFL has a significant disparity between the diversity of its players and that of its coaching staff – the largest among the men’s major leagues – and that hasn’t changed despite a large pool of diverse former players who could respond. to a demand for coaching talent.”

Brian Flores, the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins, sued the league and three teams last year, saying the NFL was ‘riddled with racism’, particularly in its hiring and promotion of black coaches. . Flores was an assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers last season and is the new defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings.

“I recognize that our representation of diverse head coaches, particularly black head coaches, is certainly below our expectations and is not where anyone wants it to be or knows it needs to be” , said Beane, senior vice president, chief diversity officer and inclusion officer for the NFL.

“We have far too much talent to have the representation among head coaches that we have. However, I think it’s really, really important to look at other areas that are CEO-type positions, which are critical positions for success or failure.

The number of minority presidents and general managers is the highest in NFL history. The league didn’t even have its first black president until Washington COs hired Jason Wright in August 2020. Kevin Warren (Chicago Bears), Sashi Brown (Baltimore Ravens), Sandra Douglass Morgan (Las Vegas Raiders) and Damani Leech (Denver Broncos) joined in the past two years.

Just four years ago, Miami’s Chris Grier was the NFL’s only black general manager. Kwesi Adolfo-Mensah (Minnesota Vikings), Ryan Poles (Chicago Bears), Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns), Martin Mayhew (Washington Commanders), Brad Holmes (Detroit Lions), Terry Fontenot (Atlanta Falcons) and Ran Carthon (Tennessee Titans) joined him.

“And we know we can still do better,” Beane said. “These are extremely vital roles. There is no role less important than another. The head coach is essential, but the general manager is just as important. The president is just as important. They all contribute to the success of the organization and you need all three to be successful. And so when we look at whether we are making progress, we need to look at all roles in an organization, especially leadership positions. So it’s not just the head coach. All of these other roles are vital and determine the success and failure of a club.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell agrees there is room for improvement.

“We always feel like there’s better work and more work ahead of us,” Goodell said last month. “There is progress, and we are happy to see progress, but it is never enough. We are always trying to say, ‘How can we do better?’ »


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