The NFL just wrapped their annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, an event where the top college prospects entering the draft are tested and interviewed by team officials.
But something else quietly took took place at the Combine; a meeting between The Fritz Pollard Alliance and NFL officials.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance is an organization that focuses on “advocating the hiring and promotion of minority candidates in NFL team staff hierarchy through public education and communication with team and league ownership and management.”
The Alliance is named after running back Fritz Pollard, one of the black first players to sign with an NFL team, joining the Akron Pros in 1920. He also coached the Pros in 1921.
The NFL started the season with eight minority coaches, and by the end of the campaign, only three were left. Only one minority candidate landed one of the eight NFL head coaching openings this off-season, and that was former New England assistant Brian Flores, hired by the Miami Dolphins. He is the son of Honduran immigrants.
In late November 2018, The Fritz Pollard Alliance gave the NFL a list of 11 minority candidates they believed were ready to be head coaches:
Flores, Cowboys defensive backs coach and defensive passing game coordinator Kris Richard, Eagles assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley, Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, Falcons assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Raheem Morris, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, former Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, former Browns coach Hue Jackson and former Lions and Colts head coach Jim Caldwell.
Only Flores was hired.
“The NFL, a league that’s 70 percent African-American, continues to fall short in hiring people of color to fill key decision-making positions,” wrote Jason Reid for “The Undefeated” website.
“It’s disappointing that some of the guys who really deserve a shot in the league weren’t able to get jobs, but I actually feel quite confident that they’re going to be head coaches in this league soon,” N. Jeremi Duru, co-counsel of The Fritz Pollard Alliance, told Reid.
The latest wave of NFL head coaching hires included many offensive coaches. Therefore, The Fritz Pollard Alliance and the NFL are working on an initiative to help more minorities become offensive coordinators.
“In conjunction with top league decision-makers [at the Combine] for the week long event, the Fritz Pollard Alliance is determined to develop a plan to increase the number of minority coaches who work on offense, believing that’s the best way to bolster diversity at the highest level of coaching,” wrote Reid. “Commissioner Roger Goodell has acknowledged that the NFL has too few coaches of color on that side of the ball. During an era in which owners prefer to pick offensive coaches to fill openings, well, that’s a problem.”
But the biggest problem for The Fritz Pollard Alliance is even though the NFL has a rule in place (“The Rooney Rule”) that makes teams interview minorities for every head coaching opening, they can’t force teams to hire them.