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New NFL diversity outreach to MEAC and SWAC could produce the next Sashi Brown

Last weekend we watched as only players from HBCUs heard their name called in the NFL Draft. A week later, it looks as though the NFL is hoping to increase the number of HBCU alumni it employees — off the field.

There will soon be more job opportunities in the NFL for students at schools in the SWAC and MEAC in the NFL as league announced it has reached a deal to partner with the two conferences to give more non-playing career opportunities.

“It’s a reflection of our business,” NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent told USA TODAY Sports on Friday. “This is the 21st century. We have to be intentional in our efforts and inclusive. Our diversity efforts allow us to develop a strong pipeline for those non-participant positions.”

The new initiative will emphasize careers like athletic training, communications and administrative roles. It will include internships and job shadowing, as well as a summit during the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta this December.

This is a big deal for the conferences and schools involved. When most people think of jobs in the NFL, they think of coaches and players, and little else. But the NFL is much more than that.

Take the Cleveland Browns, for example. The team hired Sashi Brown, a Hampton alum, as executive VP of football operations this winter. Brown is now one of the principle players in an attempt to drag the Browns from futility. He’s helped hire Hue Jackson, bring in RGIII as a free agent and overseen the team’s draft process in his short time on the job.

Basically, he’s been given the keys to the kingdom, as Browns owner Jimmy Haslam told Cleveland.com that Brown will have “ultimate say over the roster.”

Brown worked his way up without the benefit of this program. Just think of how many potential Sashi Browns will now get a chance to do the same because of it.

Hopefully the league will expand opportunities throughout the entire HBCU landscape shortly.

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