In March of this year, the NFL formed a new committee to review policies regarding its diversity hiring practices.
“Today, the National Football League announced the creation of the NFL Diversity Advisory Committee, following its pledge last month to retain outside experts to review the league’s diversity policies and practices,” the league said in a news release. “The six-member committee will lend its expert, external perspective on industry best practices and will evaluate league and club diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategies and initiatives, including all hiring processes, policies and procedures, with a primary focus on senior-level coach and front office personnel positions.”
As part of this announcement, the league also mandated that all 32 NFL must hire a minority offensive assistant coach for the 2022 season. The coach that is hired must be "a female or a member of an ethnic or racial minority."
The thinking behind this is that the majority of new NFL head coaches are being hired from the offensive side of the ball, so if the NFL wants to increase the number of minority head coaches, the first step is to increase the number of minority offensive coaches.
There are six head coaches with new teams this year — and of them, five were offensive coaches prior to getting their first head coaching job. Of these six, only one is a minority, Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel.
How it affects the Chiefs
On Thursday, Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was asked whether the Chiefs coaching staff was in compliance with the mandate.
"Yeah, Dan Williams was promoted into that spot," said Reid. "He was kind of doing that anyways, but he was promoted into that spot. He's been in the quarterback room and played it in college, so he's a nice addition. He's doing just a little bit more on the offensive side than what he was."
If you don't know who Williams is, he's the guy you see following Reid around; he usually has his playsheet.
According to the team's website, Williams entered the NFL as a coaching intern in 2019 after wrapping up his college career at Division III Stevenson University, where he played quarterback and was the team's all-time passing leader. Last season, he was the assistant to the head coach, but Reid mentioned he was recently promoted to a role that keeps him in the quarterbacks' room.
Williams' father, Ted, spent 20 years (1995-2015) on the Philidelphia Eagles coaching staff — 14 of which were under Andy Reid.
Beyond the Williams family, Reid has a track record of developing minority coaches under him. To date, Reid's coaching tree has produced 10 head coaches, three of which are minorities (Ron Rivera, Todd Bowles, and Leslie Frazier). Currently, there are only five minority head coaches in the NFL, and two of them worked under Reid.
In addition to this, former Chiefs executive director of player personnel Ryan Poles, who came up through the Chiefs' front office under three different general managers, was hired as the Chicago Bears GM earlier this year, becoming one out of seven minority GMs in the NFL.
It's well documented that Reid has spent his fair share of time stumping for his current offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to receive a chance to take the helm as the head coach of an NFL team. To help with this endeavor, the Chiefs sent Bieniemy and senior director of pro personnel Tim Terry to the NFL's coach and front office accelerator program that was held last week.
60 head coaching and general manager candidates from around the league convened in Atlanta, Georgia, for the two-day event. When Reid was asked about how it went, he relayed that he had received positive reviews about the event.
"Both guys said it was phenomenal, and both guys have been around, so they've seen different programs that have taken place. But they were really impressed by what the league presented to them.
"My hat goes off to the owners for showing up and being there and helping educate, I think that's very important. It's not talk — they were there, and they were sharing things they look at as owners when hiring a head coach and general manager. Invaluable. So, I'm glad it worked out. I know (NFL executive vice president of football operations) Troy Vincent and (NFL commissioner) Roger Goodell spent a lot of time organizing it, and it really came off well."
Chiefs players highlighting diversity
Beyond the Chiefs' efforts in the front office and on their coaching staff, quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been trumpeting the skills of athletes who play for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Mahomes served as honorary coin-toss captain for the inaugural HBCU Legacy Bowl this past February.
"It was super exciting for me," he said from the podium on Thursday, "I mean, when you look back and they [HBCUs] didn't have a player drafted last year and then now to have some have four guys going [in this year's draft], I mean, you just wanted to shed light on these guys. I mean, they're guys that are super talented.
"They're playing a competitive, competitive division and you want to give them that platform. And I think the HBCU bowl game gave them that. And you saw that they got on that platform, they made plays happen, they had the combine as well. And then you got four guys getting drafted and more in camps."
"And so I think just kind of giving them that light and then letting them go do it. What they've been doing and they've been doing it for a long time. So we gave them that platform, and they made the most of it."
One of the four HBCU players drafted this year was Chiefs rookie Joshua Williams, who Kansas City selected in the fourth round. The 6-foot-3 cornerback shined at the NFL Combine and was a late riser up draft boards. With 32 7/8-inch arms and a 36-inch vertical, Williams possesses the length to contest any throw and the size to press receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Earlier this month, Williams was asked if there was a pride factor in being drafted out of an HBCU.
He said that he will always be proud of where he played in college, but first and foremost, he is focused on acclimating and learning the new system in Kansas City.
"Of course, I love all HBCUs, and I'm very proud of where I came from. But at the same time, I know at this level, nobody really cares where you came from. You know, it's all about results, honestly. So, I'm kind of just focusing on that — being a professional. Getting used to it. Of course, I'm definitely proud of where I came from. And I'm blessed to be where I am and have experienced everything I have. But at the same time, I'm very humble and eager to fit in here."