The NFL announced that 122 coaches participated in the 2021 Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship and 25 aspiring scouts participated in the 2021 Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship. Of the total, 32 Bill Walsh fellows and 9 Nunn-Wooten fellows are NFL Legends.
Each year, the NFL works to develop a stronger, more diverse pipeline with an effort to allow candidates the opportunity to be considered for various football operations roles within NFL clubs.
The Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship provides NFL coaching experience to talented minority college coaches, high school coaches and former players. Designed as a vocational tool to increase the number of full-time NFL minority coaches, all 32 NFL clubs have participated since its inception in 1987.
The Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship, launched in 2015, exposes NFL Legends, former college football players, and those currently working in college football to a career in scouting. The program gives participants a unique glimpse into player personnel by introducing them to various areas related to both college and professional scouting.
Currently, there are 58 Bill Walsh fellows from the last five years coaching in the NFL, in part due to coaches such as Ron Rivera, Washington Football Team’s head coach.
"I believe the impact that the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship and Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship has had on our game is truly remarkable, it has opened up so many opportunities for coaches and personnel executives that otherwise may not have gotten them, especially men and women of color," said Rivera. “These fellowships both give deserving men and women the opportunity to get their foot in the door and pursue a career that they are passionate about. As someone who took part in an NFL coaching internship to start my career, I appreciate that by getting that opportunity, I earned everything I’ve achieved from that point on.”
This year through the Nunn-Wooten Fellowship, the Chicago Bears hired their first full-time female scout, Ashton Washington. Washington entered training camp as a player personnel intern as part of the fellowship and now works in a full-time scouting role.
“The annual Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching and Nunn-Wooten Scouting fellowships provide us with an excellent resource to further support diversity and inclusion across our Football Operations opportunities, as well as work alongside talented up-and-coming coaches and scouts,” said Ryan Pace, Chicago Bears general manager. “We have made several full-time hires through the program, most recently Ashton Washington as scouting assistant. She is an incredible addition to the club and her strong recruiting and operations experience across numerous levels of play brings a unique and valued perspective to our scouting team. We’re proud to be taking an important step as we continue to build upon our efforts to show that football is for everyone.”
While most fellowships occur during training camp, minicamp, or organized team activities, some clubs choose to extend their fellows into the season. The extensions of these fellowships highlight clubs’ continued dedication to developing a diverse pipeline of personnel.
In addition to the annual in-person fellowships, virtual programs were established in 2020 and continued this year as an additional development opportunity. These virtual sessions, hosted by coaches and personnel executives at clubs, focused on advancement and mentorship, providing an opportunity for minority coaches and scouts to further their skillset, enhance their knowledge of the game, and engage with other colleagues around the league.
This year’s speakers for the virtual Bill Walsh Fellowship programs included:
This year’s speakers for the virtual Nunn-Wooten Fellowship programs included: