NFL record seven African-American GMs set to begin in 2022 season

There has been a long controversy over the NFL's lack of diversity in both ownership and management.

NFL record seven African-American GMs set to begin in 2022 season

White males hold leadership roles in a league where approximately 70% of its employees are Black. To address the large gap in those areas, the NFL has prioritized the appointment of skilled minority general managers and head coaches. While the number of head coaches hired hasn't grown significantly, with only three Black head coaches and five overall minority coaches, there has been a noteworthy increase in the number of general managers employed.

Five of the last six general managers have been black

The NFL currently has seven African-American general managers. The Bears recruited Ryan Poles this summer, while the Vikings added Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. These two join Brad Holmes (Lions), Martin Mayhew (Commanders), Terry Fontenot (Falcons),Andrew Berry (Browns), and Chris Grier, the longest-serving Dolphins General Manager.

Will McClay, the Cowboys' roster builder, and personnel man has turned down multiple offers to become a general manager, and he might have contributed to the expanding list. Overall, it's been a significant increase from where those numbers were prior to the recent hiring frenzy.

We don’t know what the immediate future holds, but as the season kicks off in earnest, there could be some significant changes in management. NFL betting could also be influenced by the administration changes, in addition to new team drafts. Betting fans can check out NFL picks today for a complete guide, and wagering tips on the NFL.

Relationships determine who gets hired

Poles and McClay attribute their positional ascent to the solid ties they've developed during their time in the league.

Indeed, C. Keith Harrison, a UCF sports medicine professor and principal author of the NFL Diversity and Inclusion Report, went a step further, saying this.

People say time is money. Trust is money, and people invest in relationships that they trust. We have data that when you network and connect, engage with people that are different from you by gender and race, you better have a better chance of being what we call upwardly mobile.

That sounds like it's not so much about what you know as it is about whom you know.

McClay believes it is critical that NFL owners get to know minority candidates. This brings us back to trust and confidence in their ability to accomplish the job.

Jerry didn’t know me until I got to be able to spend time with, talk to him, to let him know how much I knew about football, how much I knew about relationships, and trying to get that together.

“He wouldn’t have known that if I didn’t get that opportunity."

New Bears GM Ryan Poles feels the same way, and he praises his friendship with former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli for helping him and other minority candidates.

Will GM Appointments Lead to More Black Head Coach Appointments?

With seven Black general managers in place, one has to question whether we'll see more Black head coaches. It's great to see Blacks in capacities like position coaches and coordinators, but there are plenty of competent Blacks who can lead a team.

Only Lovie Smith (Texans), Mike Tomlin (Steelers), and Todd Bowles (Buccaneers) can now claim the title of Black head coach. That's only three of the NFL's 32 teams. With Ron Rivera (Commanders) and Robert Saleh (Jets), there are just five minority head coaches in the NFL.

And, while seven GMs isn't a lot, it's somewhat better than 20%. Still far more than the roughly 10% represented by the head coach fraternity.

NFL pushing for more women hires

The Rooney Rule, a policy adopted by the NFL in 2003 that stipulates that at least two "external minorities" must be interviewed for head coaching jobs and one minority must be interviewed for a coordinator post, will now take into account women for all qualifying roles.

Women could previously only meet the requirements for jobs like club president and senior executive

The 2022 NFL season's diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plans are currently being submitted by teams. The league listed some activities as "pay equity analysis," "DEI education and training," "hire head of DEI," and "diverse recruiting."

The statement said that while assessing potential ownership groups, the league will consider the inclusion of people from different backgrounds.

"While we have made important progress, we have more work ahead of us to ensure we are approaching DEI holistically — including the need to evaluate and adjust policies, incentives, and additional requirements to ensure effectiveness and result in better outcomes for women and people of color."

The statement claims that while league office posts were held by 25% women and 20% people of color, the greatest number, upper-level coaching hiring, were less diverse.


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