Troy Vincent wrapped up the NFL’s three-day General Manager Forum and Quarterback Coaching Summit with a passionate plea to anyone who still thinks there aren’t worthy Black candidates for head coaching positions.
Vincent praised Houston Texans assistant coach Pep Hamilton, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson and several other coaches who gave impressive presentations during this week’s webinar.
“We want the best for our game, so this was confirmation that these young men are talented,” said Vincent, the five-time Pro Bowl cornerback and the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations. “They’ve developed the best quarterbacks at the collegiate level. Now all of a sudden they can’t develop a quarterback, they can’t call plays but they’re coaching the top 5 draft picks year in and year out. Stop it. We’ve got work to do, but we’re committed to it.”
The league held its inaugural GM Forum, named after Ozzie Newsome, on Monday and followed up with its fourth annual QB Coaching Summit on Tuesday and Wednesday. There are only four Black GMs and three Black head coaches in a 32-team league where about 70% of the players are minorities.
Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, New York Giants owner John Mara and Buffalo Bills owner Kim Pegula participated in the GM Forum.
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Chicago Bears chairman George McCaskey and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II participated in the coaching sessions.
“I’ve always said that it would be good to have owners at the table, and I think we’ve finally got guys at the table and they got an opportunity to see first hand,” said Doug Williams, the first Black QB to win a Super Bowl and Black College Football Hall of Fame co-founder. “My thinking is they’re going to feel a lot better about hiring somebody that doesn’t look like them because of what they can do and what they know and the fact that they can coach. I do feel good about that. I’m looking forward to it.
“I don’t know how many jobs will come open next year, but I do believe the guys that were on there and some of the guys that weren’t on there are going to go and say: ‘Hey, man, we’ve just got to change our thinking and go with the guy that can do the job.’ I feel good about it.”
Vincent added that more owners weren’t scheduled because of a crowded three-day agenda.
“They understand the importance of why this inclusiveness is important for the game,” he said.
Each team had representation from at least an owner, president, general manager or head coach during the three-day events. Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid spoke Tuesday and answered questions from aspiring head coaches.
Bieniemy took questions from attendees Wednesday following a recorded session featuring him and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Bieniemy has been the coordinator of one of the league’s most prolific offenses, but hasn’t received a promotion despite several interviews over the past three years.
Many point to the failure of teams to hire him as emblematic of a major problem for a league that preaches diversity but has only three Black head coaches.
“We all realize the important thing about coaching in this league is winning and having the best candidate,” said James “Shack” Harris, who was 18-4 as a starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams in 1974-75. “And what we all are saying is some of the best candidates are some of the coaches that are here. When you look at Eric Bieniemy, I was listening very closely. For Eric not getting a job and for people to say something about the interview, I just don’t see it. He’s an impressive individual, he’s winning.
“And I think those are some of the things that we have to see change.”