Last month, the NFL wrapped up its sixth-annual Women's Careers in Football Forum which gives qualified women access to key figures in NFL front offices, as well as coaches and executives, in hopes of cultivating connections and transforming those networking opportunities into careers.
Every year, general managers and head coaches from a variety of NFL clubs speak at the event and this year's forum featured eight head coaches, one being Brandon Staley.
"I think part of what makes the NFL so special is spreading the game and making an impact on the game," Staley said. "I think the Women's Forum is an opportunity to kind of create the future of the NFL. Being the son of a teacher, you just know that there are a lot of people capable of coaching our guys. You want as much diversity as possible to coach these guys and be part of the NFL."
Since the forum began in 2017, more than 200 women have been hired in a multitude of roles at varying levels of football.
Though this was his first time attending the forum, Staley explained he's been a fervent fan of it and the work NFL senior director of diversity, equity & inclusion, Sam Rapoport, has done to expand roles for women in the league and in the game.
"What Sam's been doing with the league's been awesome and I jumped at the chance to be part of it," Staley said. "I connected with Sam about five years ago when I was first in the NFL [and] I went to a seminar for first-year NFL coaches. Sam was in charge of the event, and I got to meet her and since then, she's ascended in a big way within the NFL. What she's done to change the game and the trajectory of women in the game, it's just been remarkable. We developed a friendship and when she asked me to be part of it, I was so excited to see the progress in the NFL and the way the league's changed in so many ways."
"Coach Staley has been an ardent supporter of this effort for years and his enthusiasm was evident during his session," said Rapoport. "Several of our coaches left that room remarking that they'd relish the opportunity to work for someone like him."
In every forum, coaches and GMs hold breakout sessions with participants. Staley's was held with Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, as the pair worked together during the 2020 season. Staley immediately kicked off the breakout session by asking Sophia Lewin, a former offensive assistant coach with the Buffalo Bills, a question.
For Lewin, that access and experience was invaluable.
"The breakout session was great," Lewin said. "The two coaches introduced themselves, then I asked coach Staley about the experience of interviewing with coach McVay and working together at the Rams. He said they talked ball and philosophy for 10.5 hours for the interview. Hearing about how much he prepared for that interview and ultimately how they worked together was awesome and informative. Coach McVay was complimentary of coach Staley's ability to teach and his humility.
"For me, the opportunity to talk with coach Staley was tremendous. I'm looking to continue to grow and develop as a young coach. He is clearly bright and someone that I hope to work for and with."
For Staley, he viewed the opportunity to speak and connect with these women as another way to gain knowledge in this league and further his philosophy of collaboration and building relationships.
"I think that you can learn a lot from people as a coach," he said. "Being around some of the women I've worked with at various clubs, you gain different perspective. I think people have different experiences who can help you. When I was with the Rams, I was around some really influential people and being here at the Chargers, I've been around a lot of influential people.
"We just hired Katie Sylvan to a major role here working with our [salary] cap. I love being part of change and really impactful change. Being part of that call and being able to meet women who have these really unique experiences whether it's in college, professional football, or in different parts of the world, it was really fun."
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