The NFL’s accelerator initiative instills hope among minority coaches that the new system is effective

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Arthur Rooney speaks in the press conference

Receiving instruction on handling crises and managing media interactions will benefit Houston quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson and New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka if they pursue NFL head coaching positions. That’s precisely the aim of the NFL’s coach accelerator program.

This program spans three days and coincides with the league’s spring meetings, wrapping up on Wednesday. Concurrently, the coaches’ current teams are entering the final phase of the offseason, keeping the 28 assistant coaches quite occupied.

“We’re all about football, so it’s a bit amusing,” remarked Johnson on Tuesday. “During the 15-minute breaks in the sessions, almost every coach pulled out their iPad, checked out OTAs film, and sent notes.”

This marks the NFL’s fifth accelerator program since 2022, aiming to connect minority candidates for head coach, general manager, and other front office roles with decision-makers—team owners. The previous session, held last December, focused on front office and GM candidates.

Among the attendees is former NFL head coach Brian Flores, who currently has a lawsuit against the league and three teams in federal court. Additionally, former Stanford coach David Shaw is participating, alongside 19 coaches attending their first session.

Jerrod Johnson answers media questions in a press conference

There’s increased optimism following the hiring of four minority coaches this offseason, bringing the total number of coaches of color for the 2024 season to nine, a historic high. Presently, the NFL boasts six Black head coaches, including Johnson’s superior, DeMeco Ryans, who recently completed his first season in Houston.

Johnson expressed gratitude to the Texans’ organization for recognizing the program’s value and allowing him to participate.

“It’s something you can’t measure, man,” Johnson said. “It’s a fantastic chance to learn, connect with other coaches, and engage with owners. So, I’m really thankful for the program.”

The accelerator program extends the Rooney Rule, which was established in 2003. Pittsburgh owner Art Rooney II stated they are satisfied with the progress.

“We’re not where we want to be, not where we need to be,” Rooney said. “But, I think we are seeing the commitment across the league to making a difference here.”

On the first day of the league’s spring meeting, the NFL also introduced a new program called “NFL Source” to further its diversity commitment among suppliers.

Developed over the past three years, this program aims to standardize how the league and its teams engage with businesses, ensuring a fair chance for businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans, individuals with disabilities, or LGBTQ+ individuals to compete for contracts.

Atlanta owner Arthur Blank hired one of the four minority coaches this offseason, Raheem Morris. Blank highlighted his franchise’s long-standing commitment to expanding opportunities, surpassing a goal by employing nearly 40% minority representatives in constructing Mercedes-Benz Stadium.


By Christopher Kamila

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