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Accelerator program overdue for NFL diversity. Will it help?


For 15 years, Aaron Glenn was an impressive NFL cornerback, a team leader, and a coach within the making.

Teammates, fans and coaches of the Recent York Jets, for whom he spent eight seasons as a shutdown defender, recognized it. Same thing when Glenn went to Houston and Dallas.

He retired as a player after the 2008 season, and since 2014 has served as an assistant coach in Cleveland, Recent Orleans and, the past two years as defensive coordinator in Detroit.

He believes he’s ready for a head-coaching gig. The issue? Not most of the people making such decisions know much about Glenn — nor the opposite African American and minority candidates within the pipeline.

The chasm between bosses on the clubs and the minority candidates has remained as wide because the Grand Canyon. As Glenn jokingly made reference, to the vast majority of owners are white billionaires. The Coach and Front Office Accelerator program is designed to shut that mammoth gap.

“There’s not numerous differences,” Glenn said this week on the NFL meetings, referring to team owners Art Rooney II of Pittsburgh, Arthur Blank of Atlanta, and Kim Pegula of Buffalo, who attended a news conference with him. “Their bank accounts are larger than mine — but aside from that, not numerous differences. And that was necessary to all of us that stand here, simply to get a probability to have that face-to-face conversation with the owners and understand that.

“From meeting the owners, to talking to one another and getting a probability to go to with one another,” Glenn added of other candidates collaborating, “after which just understand exactly what we’re attempting to construct, so I could see this occurring for years. And there’s going to be numerous people like me which can be going to be in this example which can be going to get a probability to be head coaches and GMs, so it was a fantastic event.”

It surely was a essential event.

The job at all times within the highlight, in fact, is head coach. There will likely be six minorities in that position this season: Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, Houston’s Lovie Smith and Tampa Bay’s Todd Bowles, who’re Black; Miami’s Mike McDaniel, who’s biracial; the Jets’ Robert Saleh, who’s of Lebanese heritage; and Washington’s Ron Rivera, who’s Hispanic.

Compared with the beginning of the 2020 season, when there have been three Black men holding the job, plus Rivera, that will indicate some progress, albeit incremental when the league has roughly 70% African American players.

The Rooney Rule was devised in 2003 to enhance opportunities for minorities to be hired as head coaches. It since has been expanded to cover general managers and other executives, coordinators and, as of Tuesday, quarterbacks coaches. All of those are significant steps.

“I asked a pair of householders, ‘How do they think it went?’” Glenn said. “They usually gave me their honest opinion. Because at the top of the day I would like to be a head coach. I do, and that’s not changing. So now it goes to, ‘OK, owners, are you going to present me that shot to try this?’ So, I’m doing the whole lot I can as a Detroit Lions coach immediately to place myself in that position. That’s not going to alter. I actually have to ensure I prepare myself within the interviews to ensure I can show that I’m able to be a head coach. After which it’s not on me anymore. It’s as much as the owners. And that’s just my honest opinion about it.”

Glenn couldn’t have been more spot-on had he been returning a pick for a touchdown, something he did six times amongst his 41 interceptions. The onus is on each side to proceed the conversations, but these potential head coaches (and GMs and executives) have been pushing the envelope for quite some time, with moderate progress.

“I feel the more exposure, the more training, the more intentional that we’re,” said Blank, one in all the league’s most progressive owners, “I feel we’re going to see a change within the numbers that we’re in search of.

“So, it gives a novel opportunity to develop those personal relationships. Often if you find yourself hiring, you have a look at expertise, background, and experience, and sometimes it looks fairly equal. When individuals are together in front of you, you have got a possibility to get to know them, it becomes special.”


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