NFL, Black leadership, coaches, sports

As Black Team Presidents Increase In The NFL, A Luncheon Seeks To Give Them Their Flowers

Minorities in Sports, a network dedicated to providing opportunities and access to sports professionals of color, and Diverse Representation, an organization dedicated to increasing Black representation in all aspects of the sports and entertainment management industries, will be honoring the Black executives with a luncheon.

Sandra Douglass Morgan became the first Black woman president in NFL history in 2022, part of a growing class of Black front office executives.

Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis approached her in 2021 about taking the open position following the departure of two team presidents. Morgan has unexpectedly become something of a role model, as she recounted to CNBC the story of a father telling her that his daughter now wants to get involved in football, all because she saw Morgan.

“He told me that he brings his son and daughter to the games and that his son always talks about wanting to play for the Raiders while her daughter says nothing,” she says. “But when she saw me on the field, she turned to her dad and said, ‘Maybe I can work for the Raiders, too.'” Morgan continued, “I realized, at that moment, that this job is much bigger than me. It’s giving people hope, visibility, and optimism that this is something you can strive for.”

The number of Black NFL team presidents has grown significantly since 2020 when the Washington Commanders hired Jason Wright. Since then, Wright has been joined by Kevin Warren (Chicago Bears), Sashi Brown (Baltimore Ravens), Morgan, and Damani Leech (Denver Broncos). The rapid rise of Black team presidents in the NFL created a juxtaposition where the front office and team composition were overwhelmingly Black, but the coaching ranks were not.

Before this year’s hiring cycle, the league only had three Black head coaches. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Todd Bowles, and the Miami Dolphins’ Mike McDaniel. Over the past few months, the league executed its version of a hiring blitz. The league now boasts six Black head coaches, and one of them, Houston’s Demeco Ryans, is receiving buzz for coach of the year after he guided the Houston Texans to an improbable playoff run. The other Black head coaches are Raheem Morris (Atlanta Falcons), Jerrod Mayo (New England Patriots), and Antonio Pierce (Las Vegas Raiders).

Ahead of the Super Bowl, two organizations are coming together to celebrate the achievements of these Black team presidents. Minorities in Sports, a network dedicated to providing opportunities and access to sports professionals of color, and Diverse Representation, an organization committed to increasing the hiring and exposure of Black attorneys, agents, managers, publicists, and financial advisors in the sports and entertainment industries will be honoring the Black executives with a luncheon.

According to Jaia Thomas, an attorney and founder of Diverse Representation, “The 2023-2024 NFL season is the first season in NFL history to boast five Black team presidents. We’re excited to celebrate their accomplishments and the numerous ways in which they’ve opened opportunities for greater diversity in the league.”

The NFL, according to the press release, is currently the league with the most Black team presidents across all major American sports. The luncheon plans to honor Wright, who kicked off the Black team president hiring frenzy, and Warren, the most recent hire among Black team presidents. The event will take place on Feb 8 at the Resorts World Hotel in Las Vegas.

According to Shaina Wiel, the founder and CEO of Minorities in Sports, the event is an attempt to give these Black team presidents their flowers. “With our Toast to Black Sports event, we aim to highlight and celebrate the top Black sports executives in the industry. Too often, Black executives are behind the scenes accomplishing phenomenal feats with little to no recognition. Our goal is to give proverbial flowers by recognizing them for their work.”