The Fritz Pollard Alliance – a group dedicated to promoting equal opportunity practices in sports – blasted the NFL over hiring practices that have left the league with few minority coaches and managers.
The group’s chief, former NFL G.M. and league executive Rod Graves, called the league “shameful” for its exclusionary practices, NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk reported.
“We were painfully reminded through this past hiring cycle that attaining diverse leadership in the NFL can only happen through the willful actions of the team owners and decision makers,” Graves’ statement reads. “True devotion to diversity starts with a recognition of the profound good that it can bring to the Game. It embraces a belief that the benefactors who contribute to the business of football should also share in the benefits. It embraces a core belief that the Game should be accessible at every level for those that possess the skills and who have the resources to meet their aspirations.
“The abysmal record of hiring people of color in high ranking levels of NFL management is a reminder of the dark periods of civil rights history,” the statement added. “In 100 years of professional football, the NFL has moved from Fritz Pollard as its first African-American Head Coach in 1921 to four Head Coaches of color in 2020. The League has only one African-American General Manager. There are no African-American club presidents.”
Players of color make up 70.1 percent of the league’s players, Graves says, but minority coaches only fill a third of the league’s assistant coaching staff and far less of its upper management.
Graves calls the statistics a “glass ceiling” for black coaching and managerial applicants.
“We are in a battle for social justice,” the group’s statement continues. “The current system of hiring and promoting talent into the upper levels of NFL management is a flawed system. We cannot expect fairness if business remains status quo. Our focus must shift from counting emblematic victories each year to calling for measurable initiatives that support sustainable progress.”
The Fritz Pollard Alliance ended by calling for the league and its owners to “develop specific diversity action plans to improve diversity in all aspects of management.”
The Alliance is an independent organization that works with the NFL to foster diversity in the league’s coaching, management, and office staff. The group is named after the NFL’s first black coach who made history in the 1920s.
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