NFL owners are gathering this week in Atlanta, and another group will join them: minority coaches and executives.
A group of 60 aspiring head coaches and GMs will sit in on meetings between league office personnel and owners, and then close the day with a cocktail reception tonight. On Tuesday, the two groups will hold a speed-dating session, where owners and executives will meet with the aspiring coaches and GMs for 10- to 15-minute increments.
The meetings are a project of NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent, with just three Black head coaches hired from 2018 to '21. (The 2022 cycle was a bit better, with three minority head coaching hires and four minority GMs hired over the past 17 months.)
“Is this the answer? No,” Vincent told Peter King of NBC. “Is it part of a solution? It may be. We need to get people who make the decisions on future head coaches to get to meet [Colts offensive coordinator] Marcus Brady, [Browns defensive coordinator] Joe Woods, [Lions defensive coordinator] Aaron Glenn and [Packers defensive coordinator] Jerry Gray, and so many others. This is a new day. It’s not about forcing anyone to hire anyone. It’s about exposing good coaches to those who make the calls.”
In a league where hiring often boils down to who the ownership and executive class knows, this is a deliberate effort to let the C-suites and above get to know a new set of coaches and talent evaluators. The NFL is also bolstering its efforts to increase minority participation at the bottom of the coaching ladder, part of a sustained acknowledgment that its hiring outcomes are often based on factors other than merit.
“My hope,” Vincent told me, “is that some owners and decision-makers will come back from this meeting and say, ‘I met some people I did not know, and who I was very impressed with.’ They go back to their team and say, ‘I want to get these people on our radar when we might have a decision to make.’ That’s why these kinds of meetings are important.”