In Black America Podcast: The Seventh Annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. “Salute to Excellence Awards”
On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. speaks with Paul J. Tagliabue, former NFL Commissioner; N. Jeremi Duru, Counsel FPA Pollard Foundation; Jerry Reese, Sr VP/General Manager New York Giants and George Taliaferro, the first African American drafted by a NFL team.
Top African-American executives of NFL teams, two African-American head coaches and former NFL Commissioner Paul J. Tagliabue were honored at a unique event during Super Bowl XLVI Week in Indianapolis. The Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation honored these trailblazers at their 7th Annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. “Salute to Excellence Awards.” The Fritz Pollard Alliance is an organization of NFL executives and others who work to increase access and opportunities for minorities interested in coaching, front office and scouting positions in the National Football League.
The Alliance is an outgrowth of efforts by the late Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., Cyrus Mehri and John Wooten who pressured the NFL for better minority inclusion. That resulted in the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview minorities for head coaching and top executive positions.
Honored at the event was former NFL Commissioner Paul J. Tagliabue who is the first recipient of the annual award named in his honor. The award goes to a league or team executive who demonstrates the integrity and leadership Tagliabue exhibited in career development opportunities for minority candidates and advocacy for diversity on the league and club level.
African-American NFL executives honored were: Sheldon White, VP/Pro Personnel and Martin Mayhew, General Manager Detroit Lions; Reggie McKenzie, General Manager Oakland Raiders; Rick Smith, Exec VP/General Manager Houston Texans; Ozzie Newsome, GM/Executive VP Baltimore Ravens and Jerry Reese, Sr VP/General Manager New York Giants.