As part of its continuing efforts to strengthen the NFL coaching pipeline, the NFL today announced that 179 coaches participated in the 2019 Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship. Of the total, 53 Bill Walsh fellows are former NFL players.
The Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship, named after late Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach Bill Walsh, provides NFL coaching experience to talented minority college coaches, high school coaches and former players. Walsh introduced the concept to the league in 1987 when he brought a group of minority coaches into his San Francisco 49ers' training camp.
"The Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship is a tremendous opportunity for rising coaches to hone their skills by experiencing first-hand the methods and philosophies of NFL coaching staffs," said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent. "This fellowship is key to the future of the game as it identifies the next generation talented coaches."
Since inception, nearly 2,000 minority coaches have participated in the program with support from all 32 clubs during offseason workouts, minicamps, and training camp. Some fellows were extended through the 2019 season such as NFL Legend Hines Ward who in September joined the New York Jets staff as a full-time offensive assistant. Other clubs who extended fellowships through the season include Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams, and the Washington Redskins.
Out of 86 colleges and universities represented, 17 participants are coaches with HBCU football programs and 29 were from FBS institutions. High school coaches made up 19. This year's program participants also included four women - Callie Brownson (Atlanta and Buffalo), Jennifer King (Carolina), Samantha Mullet (Baltimore), and Tracy Zimmer (Atlanta). The Miami Dolphins participated with 15 Bill Walsh fellows, the most of any team in 2019.
"Our organization was excited to provide opportunities and access throughout all levels of our football operation through the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship," said Miami Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier. "Our Head Coach Brian Flores has long said there's a great number of smart, talented leaders across the league and he is all in for whatever he can do to help others gain exposure at this level. I have seen firsthand how this fellowship can changes lives and we appreciate the full support and the commitment from Stephen Ross every step of the way."
The Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship is just one NFL program aimed at developing a diverse pipeline for club personnel. In 2019, 17 participants completed the Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship Program. Nunn-Wooten, launched in January 2015, exposes former NFL players, former college football players, and current college football employees 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.