Offseason Program

'Building a diverse pipeline'

The NFL's continuing efforts to help prepare, educate and identify quality minority candidates for coaching and front office positions are moving the chains, but there's still ground to be gained.

"Still a lot of work to be done, but I think we are making some progress here," Steelers president Art Rooney II said Tuesday at the fourth annual Quarterback Coaching Summit.

The event, held virtually Tuesday and Wednesday, features panels and sessions led by NFL owners, current and former coaches and front office personnel.

Rooney, the NFL Workplace Diversity Committee chair, kicked off the two-day event, which is held in partnership with the Black College Football Hall of Fame.

"From what I understand, more than 10 participants from last year's Summit were promoted or advanced in their careers over the past year, so it's great to see that coming out of this Summit," Rooney said.

Added NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: "We are very proud to continue our partnership with the Black College Football Hall of Fame to bring together some of the brightest, the most innovative and successful minds of football to really foster the development of quarterback coaches and coaches in general."

Joining Rooney at the Quarterback Coaching Summit this year are Cleveland Browns Vice President of Football Operations Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Atlanta Falcons Chairman Arthur M. Blank and Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

The Summit was preceded this year by the inaugural Ozzie Newsome General Manager Forum, which was held virtually on Monday.

Participants included Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, Black College Football Hall of Fame co-founder James "Shack" Harris, New York Giants owner John Mara, Miami Dolphins personnel executive Reggie McKenzie, Buffalo Bills president Kim Pegula and Newsome, an executive vice president for the Baltimore Ravens.

The Summit's agenda included addressing topics such as how to build a coaching staff and winning culture and the qualities of a head coach, and also provided networking opportunities for career advancement.

"Our league has taken a collective approach to create a fair and inclusive system of identifying and developing and hiring minority candidates for both coaching and football executive positions and really, going back to 2019 in our owners' Diversity Committee, started to focus on three areas the league office and the clubs could use to help influence the hiring cycle," Rooney continued.

"One was to identify candidates through the traditional NFL workplace as well as candidates that come through sort of non-traditional pipelines such as college football and other opportunities for former players. We also want to expand development opportunities for diverse candidates to gain skills and experience needed to become qualified candidates. And then, finally, to create opportunities and really encourage mentorship throughout the league, and I think we made a lot of progress on that front.

"People such as Bruce Arians are with us, (who) has really taken up the mantel of trying to bring along young candidates into the pipeline and provide opportunities for them to develop into first coordinator candidates and then, hopefully, head coaching candidates.

"I think with all of these policy changes the league has tried to provide opportunities and I think we are building a diverse pipeline for talent to be primed to fill coaching, scouting, front office and league office positions."

The NFL's ongoing efforts to promote diversity extend beyond the Ozzie Newsome General Manager Forum and the Quarterback Coaching Summit.

"We project that the adjustments to our anti-tampering policies as well as the Rooney Rule enhancements have and will create more opportunities and I think we did see that over this past year," Rooney said. "Some mixed results, but overall I think we've had more minorities interviewing for positions across the league than ever before.

"That's a great step in the right direction for us."