The Black College Hall of Fame partnered with the NFL to host the second annual Ozzie Newsome General Manager Forum and the fifth annual Quarterback Coaching Summit. Both the Forum and the Summit brought together several African American personnel from different franchises and college programs to give them resources to help them secure executive front office positions in the NFL.
“To be part of a group that has identified individuals that are part of the development and with hopes of a fair opportunity for a position, if it’s possible, in the years to come either as a head coach, a coordinator, a quarterback coach, general manager, it’s humbling,” said NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent.
The three-day event featured coaches, coordinators, and franchise owners as presenters, sharing detailed knowledge about the logistics of management and coaching. The Forum and Summit was a hybrid event that took place at the NFL headquarters in Inglewood and on Zoom. Participants got a chance to tour the NFL offices and Sofi Stadium.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to bring a group of guys together where they can network and share information,” said Black College Football Hall of Fame co-founder James “Shack” Harris. “We have minorities and Blacks and people doing every job and doing it well, the only thing that’s missing is the opportunity to do them.”
The presenters for the Ozzie Newsome General Manager Forum included L.A. Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and Baltimore Ravens executive Ozzie Newsome.
The Quarterback Coaching Summit featured Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, Indianapolis Colts running back coach Scottie Montgomery and Rams assistant head coach and running back coach Thomas Brown as presenters.
The main themes throughout the Quarterback Summit were to build trustworthy, personal connections with players, build a coaching staff with diversity in background and knowledge, and how to maintain the culture of a team.
Rams assistant head coach and running back coach Thomas Brown talked about evaluating the toughness and physicality of players. Thomas noted how exposure is a helpful key to rising up to a coordinator or coaching position.
“You have to be able to get exposure, to get in some different rooms, but also you have the opportunity to learn from some great coaches is a big part of it for me,” Thomas said about the event. “The more you get around guys, the more you get connected with them, the better it is when it comes to everything, for just regular fellowship to just be able to learn and grow.”
New Orleans Saints offensive assistant DJ Williams shared the schedule that he goes by to prepare quarterbacks for a game week along with how he watches film and explains certain strategies to his players. Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph talked bout the fire and rehire process and the importance of acquiring developers of talent.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback coach Charles London explained how the quarterback and coach must believe in, trust, and have confidence in each other. He also gave details on stance, drops, and footwork techniques.
“If you can’t go in any type of workshop environment and not take away something, then you’re closedminded to what’s going on,” said Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. “The thing that I love about it, it gives me an opportunity to learn something even more, it helps me to grow as a person and more as a coach as well.”
When the Forum first started, participants had to pay travel fees to attend. Black College Football Hall of Fame Co-Creator Doug Williams and Harris also found out that quarterback coaches were the most likely to get hired for high-profile positions in a franchise. They then sought out personnel that was working with quarterbacks on the college and professional level. Since then, the event has earned a partnership with the NFL; Williams has noticed how franchises are seeking out more African Americans for coaching positions.
“We had a couple guys who was at the Summit last year that got jobs last year,” Williams said. “We feel like now with the way the NFL is going and knowing that inclusion and diversity is a big issue with them, I think it’s gonna open doors for a lot of these guys and a lot of other guys that are not here.”