For years, whenever questioned about the NFL’s limited diversity in the head coaching and general manager ranks, officials with hiring power have blamed their decision-making on a limited talent pool.

It is difficult to guarantee greater diversity at the highest levels of leadership, claim team presidents and CEOs.

The league’s talent pool is not a problem, according to minority assistant coaches as well as talent evaluators who have head coaching or general managerial ambitions.

Minorities who have aspirations to be GM or head coaches have complained for years about the inequalities they’ve been denied. These people just need to be given the opportunity to succeed.

The leaders of the NFL’s Football Operations department agree with that sentiment and have begun taking action by working year-round to scout talent. The department then provides all 32 teams with an annual list of the leading minority candidates for head coaching and general manager consideration.

The list includes 11 head coaching candidates from color and 20 minority applicants who merit consideration for openings in general management/football operations.

The League hopes that their extensive recommendation list can help team executives to be more knowledgeable about the variety of candidates available and increase their hiring power. 

In recent years, the top priority of the league office has been to improve hiring practices. In the last two years, the NFL expanded the Rooney Rule to require teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching, general manager and coordinator positions. In-person interviews must be conducted by teams for all head coaches and GM positions.

There is only one open position currently in the NFL as a coach. Rich Bisaccia was appointed interim coach after Jon Gruden’s resignation. Private emails contained racist, homophobic, and misogynistic language. However, there will be more openings this offseason. A number of teams may also be looking to change their front offices.

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These are the top vetted candidates for head coaches from the league:

  • Eric Bieniemy is the offensive coordinator in Kansas City
  • Todd Bowles, defensive coordinator, Tampa Bay
  • James Franklin, head coach, Penn State
  • Leslie Frazier, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator, Buffalo
  • Vance Joseph, Arizona’s defensive coordinator
  • Byron Leftwich (offensive coordinator Tampa Bay)
  • Jerod Mayo, inside linebackers coach, New England
  • Raheem Morris, defensive coordinator, L.A. Rams
  • DeMeco Ryans, defensive coordinator, San Francisco
  • David Shaw, head coach, Stanford
  • Mel Tucker is the Michigan State head coach (although Michigan State is currently trying to extend his 10-year contract for $95million).

Here is a list of general managers candidates that have been vetted:

  • Marvin Allen, assistant general manager, Miami
  • Dawn Aponte, NFL Senior Vice President of Football Operations
  • Brandon Brown, Philadelphia’s director of player personnel
  • Morocco Brown is the director of college scouting in Indianapolis
  • Trey Brown, ex-director of college scouting Philadelphia
  • Ran Carthon, director pro personnel, San Francisco
  • Jacqueline Davidson is the director of football research at Tampa Bay
  • Ray Farmer, player personnel consultant, L.A. Rams
  • Dwayne Joseph, director pro scouting, Las Vegas
  • Champ Kelly, Chicago assistant director of player personnel
  • Omar Khan (Vice President of Football and Business Administration, Pittsburgh)
  • Reggie McKenzie, senior personnel executive, Miami
  • Vincent Newsome is a senior executive in personnel, Baltimore
  • Roman Phifer, senior personnel executive, Denver
  • Ryan Poles is the Kansas City executive director for player personnel
  • Catherine Raiche is vice president, football operations Philadelphia
  • Louis Riddick is a former Philadelphia director of personnel.
  • Carolina, Samir Suliman, Director of Player Negotiations and Salary Cap
  • Adrian Wilson, Vice President of Pro Personnel, Arizona
  • JoJo Whiteen, Director of Player Personnel, L.A. Chargers

Last offseason saw improvement on the minority general manager front as Atlanta’s hiring of Terry Fontenot, Detroit’s hiring of Brad Holmes and Washington’s selection of Martin Mayhew brought the league-wide total of people of color in top talent evaluator positions to five (joining Miami and Cleveland)

However, only two out of seven head coaching vacancies could be filled by minority applicants. Robert Saleh moved to the Jets, and David Culley moved to the Texans.

Five NFL clubs currently employ minorities as their head coaches: Pittsburgh, Miami and New York Jets; Washington and Houston.

NFL owners and team presidents don’t have to take any of the recommendations, and it’s still easy for teams to go through the motions of satisfying the Rooney Rule requirements and then hire a non-minority candidate of their choosing.

However, NFL officials and minorities who hope to break into the general managers and head coaches ranks of the NFL believe that these latest efforts will help them see the potential for hiring and eliminate all excuses against equal opportunities.



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