The NFL has been able to make a big impact with minority coaches coming into the league. Many coaches have gained meaningful experience through the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship.
The fellowship places minority coaches in NFL training camps every summer. The program, first established in 1987, was named after the late Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh, who was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and provides opportunities for minority coaches to gain firsthand experience in training camps around the league.
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, is a product of the program. At age 36, Tomlin became the youngest head coach in league history to win a Super Bowl when he guided the Steelers to a win in Super Bowl XLIII. Tomlin was a defensive back at the University of Cincinnati when he received a fellowship with the Cleveland Browns 12 years ago. His internship with the Browns proved to be very beneficial.
“The Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship provided my first exposure to coaching in the NFL,” Tomlin said. “I learned so much from that experience, but most importantly, it confirmed my commitment to wanting to coach in the NFL. The fellowship is simply special.”
Tomlin is one of four current Black head coaches in the NFL who came out of the program. The others include: Leslie Frazier (Minnesota Vikings), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals) and Lovie Smith (Chicago Bears).
The fellowship has given over 1,500 minority coaches a chance to receive some good experience through NFL training camps. Overall, the list of NFL minority head coaches, assistant head coaches and coordinators is extensive.
The list includes the following coaches: Keith Armstrong, Atlanta Falcons, special teams; Maurice Carthon, Kansas City Chiefs, assistant head coach; Juan Castillo, Philadelphia Eagles, defensive coordinator; Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs, head coach; Perry Fewell, New York Giants, defensive coordinator; Jerry Gray, Tennessee Titans, defensive coordinator; Ray Horton, Arizona Cardinals, defensive coordinator; John Mitchell, Pittsburgh Steelers, assistant head coach; Curtis Modkins, Buffalo Bills, offensive coordinator; Winston Moss, Green Bay Packers, assistant head coach; Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers, head coach; Mike Singletary, Minnesota Vikings, assistant to the head coach; Mel Tucker, Jacksonville Jaguars, assistant head defensive coach; Bobby Turner, Washington Redskins, assistant head coach; Alan Williams, Minnesota Vikings, defensive coordinator.