As part of its efforts to diversify head coaching hires, the NFL is hosting Year 2 of its Coaching Accelerator program this week.
The program will take place during the Spring League Meeting in Minneapolis, MN, May 21 – 23.
This year, the Dallas Cowboys are represented by defensive line coach Aden Durde.
Participants are selected based on their high potential to be considered for an NFL head coach position in the future.
One purpose of the Coach Accelerator is to increase exposure between NFL owners, executives, and diverse coaching talent.
The 40 participants in attendance will have the opportunity to network, build relationships, and attend content sessions intended to advance both leadership skills and business acumen.
Although the program is relatively new, it seems to be serving its intended purpose.
In the NFL's press release, Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “In the year since its inception, we've been encouraged by the positive response to the Accelerator from both club owners and participants. We look forward to continuing to build on an incredible program that supports diverse talent.”
Aden Durde has several years of coaching experience that could indeed contribute to success should he aim for a higher position.
He spent six years as the defensive coordinator of the London Warriors.
Then, in 2018, he was hired as the defensive quality control coach for the Atlanta Falcons. Dan Quinn was the head coach of the Falcons at that time.
In 2020, Durde became the Falcons' outside linebacker coach.
And in 2021, he was hired by the Dallas Cowboys as their defensive line coach, joining Dan Quinn who had been hired as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator just nine days prior.
ADEN DURDE'S WORK DIVERSIFYING THE NFL
This isn't the first time Aden Durde has participated in a program intended to diversify the NFL.
While Durde served as head of football development at NFLUK in 2016, he and two-time Super Bowl champion Osi Umenyiora, also British-born, created a training program for amateur football players in Europe.
They scouted the players themselves, mostly via YouTube videos.
Then, using connections they had made during their time in the NFL, they set up meetings and organized tryouts for a small number of selected athletes.
Even before the program had a name, it was fully sanctioned and supported by the NFL.
The League even commissioned a mini-series documentary about the program. It was called NFL Undiscovered, and it followed the participants of the program.
In 2017, after Durde's and Umenyiora's program had run for only a year, the International Player Pathway was created.
It was implemented with additional systems and regulations for the divisions sponsoring the program and the players selected to participate.
Participation in the program has increased each year since then.
All 32 NFL teams have received at least one player through the IPP at some point since the program's inception.
This year, the program added eight players to NFL rosters – the most in its eight-year history.
Six of the players are from Nigeria. They participated in Osi Umenyiora's “The Uprise” initiative, then attended the inaugural NFL Africa talent camp in Ghana last year.
This year, they were invited to the International Combine in London and secured their place in the IPP program.