NFL Accelerator Program Returns Next Week And Continues To Apply Brakes On Advancing White Men

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The NFL on Wednesday proudly announced the return of its Accelerator Program, and with it returns the fact NFL owners have a diversity divide issue and the league is trying to address that issue of inclusivity with a program that embraces exclusion.

The Coach Accelerator program will run during the NFL’s spring meeting starting Sunday to Tuesday in Minneapolis.

Per the NFL, the program “aims to increase exposure between owners, executives, and diverse coaching talent, providing ample opportunity to develop and build upon their relationships.”

The program is designed to change the dynamics of past coach hiring cycles in which white candidates were hired more often than minority candidates.

In addition to networking, further development of the participants is a component of the accelerator program, with sessions scheduled that will help each participant on the advancement of their executive leadership skills and business acumen. 

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media during a press conference prior to Super Bowl LIV at the Hilton Miami Downtown on January 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida. The San Francisco 49ers will face the Kansas City Chiefs in the 54th playing of the Super Bowl, Sunday February 2nd. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

Roger Goodell Encouraged By Program

“In the year since its inception, we’ve been encouraged by the positive response to the Accelerator from both club owners and participant,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said via the league’s press release. “We look forward to continuing to build on an incredible program that supports diverse talent.”

The program, on the surface, sounds like a good idea.

But none of that addresses the fact it is unfair.

Because this program designed to improve inclusion of minorities in the coaching ranks is exclusionary of white men.

Think about that. The NFL is trying to improve inclusion by practicing exclusion.

The NFL says the 40 participants attending this year were selected based on “their high potential to be considered for a head coach position in the future.”

What the league leaves unsaid is that white guys are not included. They aren’t invited.

Imagine if the NFL in 2023 instituted a program where black guys aren’t invited?

FEBRUARY 28: General manager Ran Carthon of the Tennessee Titans speaks to the media during the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on February 28, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Titans GM Ran Carthon A Success Story

Ran Carthon attended last year and was then hired by the Tennessee Titans as the new general manager. He is the program’s first success story.

And, to its credit, the program tries to address a root problem no one likes to admit exists: Some NFL owners routinely lack people of color within their circle of close confidants, high-ranking employees, or trusted resources.

So this program “aims to increase exposure” between owners and future minority coaching candidates.

Said another way: People who make hundreds of millions of dollars owning billion-dollar teams whose rosters consist mostly of minority men apparently aren’t often enough around minority men to give them enough consideration to hire them as head coaches.

Harsh but indisputable.

The question becomes are some NFL owners so incapable of seeing a head coach candidate through a colorblind lens that the NFL cannot allow all variations of people in the Accelerator Program so everyone can mingle?

Giants special teams coach Thomas McGaughey (left) and running back coach Jeff Nixon (right).

Giants Send Two Coaches To Accelerator Program

Beyond its fundamental imperfection the program is intriguing in this, it’s second year.

It will include three special teams coordinators. That’s important because special teams coaches generally meet with the entire team, know the rules better than most coaches, and understand personnel decisions better than other assistants.

Yet, they rarely get hired as head coaches.

Giants special teams coach Thomas McGaughey, Vikings special teams coordinator Matt Daniels, and Bears special team coordinator Richard Hightower will join the program.

“Richard is a valuable asset to our Chicago Bears,” said Bears coach Matt Eberflus. “He is an outstanding leader, teacher and communicator. We couldn’t be more excited about his opportunity to represent the Chicago bears in the NFL accelerator program. He is ready to take the next step to becoming a head coach.”

Cleveland Browns assistant wide receivers coach Callie Brownson. (Courtesy Cleveland Browns)

Browns Female Coach To Accelerator Program

The program next week will include Browns assistant receivers coach Callie Brownson. Brownson is a female whose expressed aspirations are to someday become an NFL coordinator or head coach.

Brownson is the only female included among the participants next week.

In her exchanges with owners she may have to explain a May 2021 incident in which she was driving with a blood alcohol level of .215, which is more than twice the legal limit of .08.

Brownson pleaded no contest to a charge of operating a vehicle under the influence. She faced both court ordered and team discipline.

“I made a really, really horrible, dangerous, irresponsible decision that night, and I accept the consequences that come with that,” Brownson told the Akron Beacon-Journal in November 2021. “Nobody was more disappointed in my actions that night than myself.”

She has obviously regained the confidence of the team that nominated her for the program.

Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier leaves the field after the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 15, 2013 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Frazier Among Former Head Coach Participants

While the program is partly designed to make diverse coaches known to ownership some participants are already quite well known.

There will be six coaches who will join the program that have been college or professional head coaches.

Those coaches are Baltimore’s Willie Taggart, Detroit’s Scottie Montgomery, Miami’s Jon Embree, San Francisco’s Anthony Lynn, Pep Hamilton and Leslie Frazier.

Taggart spent 12 years as head coach of five different college programs including FSU. Frazier coached the Minnesota Vikings, Lynn coached the Chargers and Hamilton coached in the XFL. Embree was the head coach at Colorado and Montgomery was the head coach at East Carolina.

Willie Taggart was the head coach at Western Kentucky, South Florida, Oregon, FSU and Florida Atlantic.

Known Coaches Introduce Selves To Ownership

The program will also include Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard.

Austin has interviewed with nearly a dozen teams for a head coach job. Richard has interviewed with a handful of teams for their head coach job. Those include the Jets, Dolphins and Buccaneers on the same day in 2019.

This year the program will also include Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai. He’s is a rising name because of his outstanding defensive scheme patterned in part on that of mentor Vic Fangio.

The fact Desai is of Indian descent obviously opened the door for him to join the Accelerator Program. But it’s not the reason he’s considered a rising star.

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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