More than 50 students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been invited to attend the seventh annual 2022 NFL HBCU Careers in Football Forum. The annual forum, held in Atlanta, Georgia this year, will take place on December 16th.
Since 2016, the Forum has introduced over 300 students and entry-level athletic department administrators to career opportunities in professional football. Each year, the Forum invites participants to hear from sports industry professionals and creates networking opportunities for students to learn more about their desired career path. This year, attendees will represent 46 institutions.
“The Careers in Football Forum has served as an incredible platform to give diverse candidates an entry into the NFL and explore careers in the sports industry. We are truly thankful to continue to build meaningful connections with HBCU students from across the country,” said NFL Senior Vice President of Football Operations, Arthur McAfee. “The Forum is one of several initiatives that deepens our long-standing relationships with these historical institutions and introduces us to HBCU leaders who will continue to advocate for forward progress for our league.”
The event will open with a panel discussion entitled Business Operations Inside the League Office featuring President and CEO of the Atlanta Falcons, Rich McKay President of the Baltimore Ravens, Sashi Brown, President of the Denver Broncos, Damani Leech. The panel will share insights on their roles and responsibilities leading the NFL’s business operations at the club level featuring NFL Network Reporter and Analyst, Steve Wyche as moderator. Other discussions will feature representatives from the NCAA and ESPN, who will cover careers in college athletics and event administration.
New this year, attendees will engage with NFL league medical staff including NFL Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Allen Sills, NFL Vice President of Wellness and Clinical Services, Dr. Nyaka NiiLampti, Mount Sinai (OHBM), Dr. Reginald Miller and NFL Physicians Society, Amy Weiss. This panel serves as an extension of the NFL’s inaugural Diversity in Sports Medicine Pipeline Initiative, aiming to increase the pipeline of HBCU students interested in pursuing careers in sports medicine and help diversify NFL club medical staff. The forum will conclude with breakout sessions where attendees can engage with NFL HR representatives, club personnel and NFL Legends in a smaller, open forum setting. In these sessions, participants will receive advice from personnel on the ins and outs of their fields and guidance on career mobility.
Since the program’s inception, 14 students from the Forum have gone on to secure internships or full-time opportunities with the NFL, NFL clubs, colleges and universities, and other sports entities.
“The HBCU Careers in Football Forum provides participants access to professional skills and connections to sports professionals across multiple facets,” said Monét Bowen, NFL Rotational Program participant. “As an HBCU graduate (Howard University), NFL Experienceship Alumni and current Rotational Program Participant, I know first-hand how important opportunities such as the Careers in Football Forum are to students’ success as they navigate the transition from college into their post-graduate endeavors. I’ve been able to explore various career interests by receiving hands-on experience (within the business of football) and establish meaningful connections, all thanks to the League’s commitment to advancing the development of HBCU students through the Forum.”
The Careers in Football Forum is one component of the league’s larger initiative to increase career development opportunities for students and athletic administrators from HBCUs. Similar to the Careers in Football Forum, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens host the HBCU Careers in Sports Combine, an annual event that gives attendees from over 20 HBCU’s combined an opportunity to interview with the club’s human resource representatives and participating partners. Additionally, this year, the Washington Commanders hosted the HBCU Sales Symposium, an invite-only event at FedEx Field exclusively for seniors at HBCU’s to learn about sales and revenue generation for an NFL franchise, while the Atlanta Falcons announced a five-year sponsorship agreement with Wells Fargo to develop a Fellowship Program aimed at creating relationships with local HBCU’s and career opportunities for their graduates.
“Each year the NFL creates a unique opportunity for our HBCU students to be exposed to invaluable information, people and resources that can help them navigate their post academic studies and pivot into the workforce and a career in sports,” said the HBCU Conference Commissioners. “Our continued partnership with the NFL along with their programming has led to thousands of our students participating over the years. These type of experiences like the Careers in Football Forum is beneficial to our HBCU students’ growth and development. We thank the NFL’s concerted effort to amplify diversity, equity, and inclusion on a national level.”
During the 2020 season, the league established an online talent community to serve as a source of diverse talent for current and future career opportunities accessible by the league office and NFL clubs. Through the platform, HBCU students can submit an expression of interest which outlines their professional experience, career goals and specific interest in working in professional football. Individuals can also interact with an NFL Talent Specialist to learn about league news, careers, networking opportunities and recruitment events after the Forum.
To learn more about the NFL’s collaboration with HBCUs please visit: https://operations.nfl.com/football-ops/the-nfl-and-