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NFL eyes diversity in top positions with Coach & Front Office Accelerator

To "enhance opportunities for minority candidates to become head coaches," the NFL will hold the inaugural Coach & Front Office Accelerator next Monday and Tuesday "at owners meetings in Atlanta,” according to Barry Wilner of the AP. Falcons Owner Arthur Blank said, “It’s an unprecedented opportunity for emerging leaders, owners and team leadership to get to know each other better over these two days, and the relationships formed in this setting will be integral to future hiring cycles.” Wilner writes for the accelerator program, “one coaching and one general manager candidate from each of the 32 teams has been selected to attend.” There are also two women from clubs who will attend: Broncos Exec Dir of Football Operations Kelly Kleine and Jaguars Dir of Football Research Jacqueline Davidson. Two "high-ranking female execs" from the league offices also “will be involved” in NFL Senior VP/Football Operations & Chief Administrative Officer Dawn Aponte and Senior VP/Football Business Strategy & Operations Kimberly Fields. To avoid tampering, guidelines “will be in place for these networking sessions, with no job interviewing or hiring allowed.” This is “more of a ‘getting to know you’ initiative that should help" both candidates and owners in the future. The goals are for the participants to “develop relationships with a number of different owners; get a deeper understanding of the business of football at the club and league levels; and recognizing what is the next thing the candidates need to do to become a general manager or coach or football executive” (AP, 5/20).

TAKING RECOMMENDATIONS: SI.com’s Albert Breer wrote people at the league office would say that this particular event is a “result of listening to those who’ve been involved in the hiring process.” And so what they are doing is a “product of what they think the invitees want and need out of it.” He said that it is necessary because, for the most part, those types do not “cross paths with owners much.” Most owners do not “attend the tentpole football events (Senior Bowl, combine).” And of the football-side people, only head coaches and GMs are typically “at any of the owners meetings,” save for a small group who “go to the labor seminar in Dallas” in December. To get an offensive coordinator or a director of player personnel in front of the larger group of owners was "going to take effort," and now "that effort has been made.” The NFL is going to try to “teach the invitees stuff they may not know," and there will be speakers who will “give the invitees valuable perspective” (SI.com, 5/19).

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