Bieniemy, Leftwich to attend NFL diversity event

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich are among more than 60 diverse head coach and general manager candidates slated to attend the inaugural coach and front office accelerator program next week at the NFL spring meetings in Atlanta.

Each NFL team nominated at least one candidate to attend the two-day program, which is scheduled to take place on Monday and Tuesday to coincide with the NFL’s meetings.

There also are two women from clubs who will attend, the Denver Broncos’ Kelly Kleine, the executive director of football operations/special adviser to the GM, and Jacqueline Davidson, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ director of football research.

The main goal of the program is to get minority candidates for head coach and GM openings face time with the league’s highest-ranking decision-makers. The idea grew out of feedback the league’s diversity committee received at the NFL scouting combine in March from candidates — some who were successful and some who were not — from the most recent coach/GM hiring cycle. Some of those candidates told the committee that one of the things that bothered them about the process was that the first time they ever met a team owner was when they went in to interview for the job.

To avoid tampering, guidelines will be in place for these networking sessions, with no job interviewing or hiring allowed. This is more of a “getting to know you” initiative that should help both candidates and owners in the future.

“The NFL is committed to diversity and inclusion, and this program is the latest in a series of steps designed to improve our hiring practices and create opportunities for advancement,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “The program helps ensure that clubs receive exposure to high-performing, up-and-coming NFL talent and candidates get a chance to learn the business on a working level from team owners and executives.”

During the NFL’s meetings in March, which were held in Palm Beach, Florida, the league announced that all 32 NFL teams will hire a minority offensive assistant coach for the 2022 season, part of a series of policy enhancements announced by the league to address its ongoing diversity efforts.

The NFL’s move to address inequity in hiring diverse candidates for head coach and GM jobs comes amid a lawsuit filed by Brian Flores against the NFL and three teams, including the Miami Dolphins, in February alleging discrimination regarding his interview processes and his firing in Miami. Two other coaches, Steve Wilks and Ray Horton have since added their names to the lawsuit.

In each of the past four years, Bieniemy has interviewed for NFL head-coaching jobs, including this year with the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints. Leftwich, meanwhile, was a candidate this offseason for the head coaching jobs with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears and Saints.

There has been progress in some areas, most notably with general managers and defensive coordinators, but there are only five minority head coaches in the league. Goodell said in February that the league “fell short” of its goals during the 2022 head coach hiring cycle and pledged to redouble efforts this offseason.

The list of attendees, which the NFL noted is subject to change:

Arizona Cardinals:

  • Quentin Harris, vice president, player personnel

  • Vance Joseph, defensive coordinator

Atlanta Falcons:

  • Charles London, quarterbacks coach

  • Anthony Robinson, director of college scouting

Baltimore Ravens:

  • Chris Horton, special teams coordinator

Buffalo Bills:

  • Terrance Gray, assistant director of player personnel

  • Eric Washington, senior defensive assistant/defensive line coach

Carolina Panthers:

  • Jeff Nixon, assistant head coach, offense

  • Samir Suleiman, vice president of football administration

Chicago Bears:

  • Ian Cunningham, assistant general manager

  • Alan Williams, defensive coordinator

Cincinnati Bengals:

  • Trey Brown, scout

  • Troy Walters, wide receivers coach

Cleveland Browns:

  • Glenn Cook, vice president, player personnel

  • Joe Woods, defensive coordinator

Dallas Cowboys:

  • Chris Vaughn, assistant director of college scouting

  • Joe Whitt Jr., defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach

Denver Broncos:

  • Ejiro Evero, defensive coordinator

  • Kelly Kleine, executive director of football operations/special advisor to the general manager

Detroit Lions:

  • Ray Agnew, assistant general manager

  • Aaron Glenn, defensive coordinator

Green Bay Packers:

  • Jerry Gray, defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator

  • Richmond Williams, director of pro personnel

Houston Texans:

  • Pep Hamilton, offensive coordinator

  • Mozique McCurtis, national scout

Indianapolis Colts:

  • Marcus Brady, offensive coordinator

  • Morocco Brown, director of college scouting

Jacksonville Jaguars:

  • Mike Caldwell, defensive coordinator

  • Regis Eller, director of pro scouting

Kansas City Chiefs:

  • Eric Bieniemy, offensive coordinator

  • Tim Terry, senior director of pro scouting

Las Vegas Raiders:

  • Dwayne Joseph, director of pro personnel

Los Angeles Chargers:

  • Renaldo Hill, defensive coordinator ​

  • JoJo Wooden, director of player personnel

Los Angeles Rams:

  • Thomas Brown, assistant head coach/tight ends coach

  • Ray Farmer, senior personnel executive

Miami Dolphins:

  • Marvin Allen, assistant general manager

  • Jon Embree, assistant head coach/tight ends coach

Minnesota Vikings:

  • Chris Blanco, assistant director of pro scouting

  • Chisom Opara, national scout

New England Patriots:

  • Steve Cargile, pro scouting director ​

  • DeMarcus Covington, defensive line coach

New Orleans Saints:

  • Khai Harley, vice president of football administration

  • Kris Richard, co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach

New York Giants:

  • Brandon Brown, assistant general manager

  • Thomas McGaughey, special teams coordinator

New York Jets:

  • Chad Alexander, director, player personnel

  • Ron Middleton, tight ends coach

Philadelphia Eagles:

  • Brian Johnson, quarterbacks coach ​

  • Jeff Scott, director of football operations

Pittsburgh Steelers:

  • Frisman Jackson, wide receivers coach

San Francisco 49ers:

  • Ran Carthon, director of player personnel

Seattle Seahawks:

  • Alonzo Highsmith, senior executive adviser to the general manager

  • Kerry Joseph, assistant quarterbacks coach

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • Jacqueline Davidson, director of football research

  • Byron Leftwich, offensive coordinator

Tennessee Titans:

  • Tony Dews, running backs coach

  • Brian Gardner, director of pro scouting

Washington Commanders:

  • Randy Jordan, running backs coach ​

  • Eric Stokes, senior director of player personnel

Participants from NFL league office:

  • Dawn Aponte, SVP, football operations and chief football administrative officer

  • Kevin Boothe, director, management council/labor operations

  • Kimberly Fields, SVP, football business strategy/football operations

ESPN’s Dan Graziano, Kevin Seifert and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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