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Eric Bieniemy, Byron Leftwich among those to attend NFL's first accelerator program

Eric Bieniemy, Byron Leftwich among those to attend NFL's first accelerator program
Each NFL club nominated at least one candidate to attend the two-day program, which is scheduled to take place Monday and Tuesday at the NFL spring meetings. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

May 19 (UPI) -- More than 60 minority head coach and general manager candidates, including Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are slated to attend the inaugural Coach and Front Office Accelerator program next week in Atlanta.

Each NFL club nominated at least one candidate to attend the two-day program, which is scheduled to take place Monday and Tuesday at the NFL spring meetings.

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There also will be two women who will attend the event: the Denver Broncos' Kelly Kleine, the executive director of football operations/special adviser to the general manager, and Jacqueline Davidson, the Jacksonville Jaguars' director of football research.

The program will provide senior women and minority coach and GM prospects with leadership development sessions with football operations experts and facilitators, as well as time spent interacting directly with team owners.

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The NFL said the program's purpose is to construct a diverse hiring pipeline for future head coach and front office positions throughout the league.

"The NFL is committed to diversity and inclusion, and this program is the latest in a series of steps designed to improve our hiring practices and create opportunities for advancement," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Thursday.

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"The program helps ensure that clubs receive exposure to high-performing, up-and-coming NFL talent and candidates get a chance to learn the business on a working level from team owners and executives."

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To avoid tampering violations, guidelines will be in place for the networking sessions -- with no job interviewing or hiring allowed.

The NFL's latest move to address inequity in its hiring practices for head coach and general manager positions comes amid a lawsuit filed by current Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach Brian Flores.

In February, Flores sued the NFL and three teams, including the Miami Dolphins, for alleged discrimination during his interview processes and his firing in Miami. Two other coaches, Steve Wilks and Ray Horton, have since added their names to the lawsuit.

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