The National Football League has long experienced great difficulty adding Black coaches and executives into its nearly homogeneous ranks. However, the league believes it can make inroads in another area.
The NFL has enacted an initiative, in conjunction with the NFL Physicians Society (NFLPS) and the Professional Football Athletic Trainer Society (PFATS), to increase the diversity and inclusion of Black and minority medical practitioners into the league.
Called the NFL Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative, the league is collaborating with four HBCUs to participate in a clinical rotation with the league’s club medical staff for those students aspiring to careers in sports medicine in the NFL.
“Increasing diversity across every role in our league and at our clubs is essential. Diversity makes us stronger,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement posted on NFL.com. “We have an opportunity to help increase the pipeline of diverse sports medicine professionals, which is imperative for us as a league. This initiative is an example of how we can lend our platform for societal benefit. I’m proud that our league can help inspire the next generation of sports medicine professionals.”
According to NFL.com, students will compete for 16 slots from four HBCU medical schools: Morehouse School of Medicine, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Howard University College of Medicine and Meharry Medical College.
The teams participating in the clinical rotations in the upcoming 2022 season include the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Tennessee Titans and Washington Commanders. More teams are expected to be added in the initiative in 2023.
The league also reiterated a long-known fact of the minuscule percentage of Black medical practitioners overall in America. Black medical students are only 7.3 percent of the total medical school population in the country. This paltry number has failed to increase beyond 1 percent over the last 40 decades and is significantly lower than the 13.4 percent Black population in the United States.