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:
Quentin Harris, vice president, player personnel
Vance Joseph, defensive coordinator
Charles London, quarterbacks coach
Anthony Robinson, director of college scouting
Chris Horton, special teams coordinator
Terrance Gray, assistant director of player personnel
Eric Washington, senior defensive assistant/defensive line coach
Jeff Nixon, assistant head coach, offense
Samir Suleiman, vice president of football administration
Ian Cunningham, assistant general manager
Alan Williams, defensive coordinator
Trey Brown, scout
Troy Walters, wide receivers coach
Glenn Cook, vice president, player personnel
Joe Woods, defensive coordinator
Chris Vaughn, assistant director of college scouting
Joe Whitt Jr., defensive passing game coordinator/secondary coach
Ejiro Evero, defensive coordinator
Kelly Kleine, executive director of football operations/special advisor to the general manager
Ray Agnew, assistant general manager
Aaron Glenn, defensive coordinator
Jerry Gray, defensive backs coach/passing game coordinator
Richmond Williams, director of pro personnel
Pep Hamilton, offensive coordinator
Mozique McCurtis, national scout
Marcus Brady, offensive coordinator
Morocco Brown, director of college scouting
Mike Caldwell, defensive coordinator
Regis Eller, director of pro scouting
Kansas City Chiefs:
Eric Bieniemy, offensive coordinator
Tim Terry, senior director of pro scouting
Dwayne Joseph, director of pro personnel
Renaldo Hill, defensive coordinator
JoJo Wooden, director of player personnel
Thomas Brown, assistant head coach/tight ends coach
Ray Farmer, senior personnel executive
Marvin Allen, assistant general manager
Jon Embree, assistant head coach/tight ends coach
Chris Blanco, assistant director of pro scouting
Chisom Opara, national scout
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
Brandon Brown, assistant general manager
Thomas McGaughey, special teams coordinator
Chad Alexander, director, player personnel
Ron Middleton, tight ends coach
Brian Johnson, quarterbacks coach
Jeff Scott, director of football operations
Frisman Jackson, wide receivers coach
Ran Carthon, director of player personnel
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
Tony Dews, running backs coach
Brian Gardner, director of pro scouting
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.