On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents highlights of the 12th annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Salute to Excellence Awards held during Super Bowl XL week.
Several top executives of NFL teams and two African-American head coaches were honored at the unique event in Houston. The awards are sponsored by the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, 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 league.
The foundation 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 with the Paul J. Tagliabue Award were Rick Smith, executive vice president of football operations and general manager for the Houston Texans; and Robert McNair, founder, chairman and CEO of the Houston Texans.
Two head coaches, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jim Caldwell of the Detroit Lions, were also honored, as were many high school and college coaches and athletes.