Natara Holloway, NFL Vice President of Business Operations and Strategy for Football Operations, joined the latest episode of "Playmakers" and discussed how the league is advancing diversity in pipeline development.
Holloway talked about some of the league's initiatives with the Black College Football Hall of Fame including the QB Coaching Summit and Ozzie Newsome General Manager Forum; two members of the Chargers' front office participated in the inaugural forum earlier this year.
Along with discussing advancement for minority candidates, Holloway, who has spent nearly two decades in the NFL, also reflected on how women's roles are advancing in the league, and the growth she's seen in youth and high school football.
Highlights from the conversation are below:
On the key to advancing diversity in the NFL
"I think it's intention; it's really just one word. It's being intentional and making sure you're not just saying, 'We'll put these programs together and it'll happen.' Or, 'We'll rely on people to use processes that have been around for years and not necessarily been effective,' to come out with the outcomes that we want to have where we're having an inclusive process.
"You have to be intentional to have an inclusive process. You have to be intentional to make sure that your pool is wide enough to cast a net around getting candidates that may not be in your sphere of influence or sphere of knowing. This is a highly-trusted business, it's a highly-networked business ... You shouldn't be excluded from the process. That's what we're doing; making sure that we can get individuals who are qualified into the process."
On what's next for women in the NFL
"I think it's limitless. I think one of the things that's similar to when you talk about Black quarterbacks and when you talk about where we're wanting to go with Black coaches, is the one day when you're not having to separate, 'These are how many women and these are how many men,' it's, 'These are how many people are really doing their thing and they're qualified.' And some happen to be women. Because that's what we're talking about.
"These women are trailblazers in spaces where they are so good. And it's not women that have gotten them to the table. Their talent and their tenacity and dedication to this game got them to the table ... This is football, we're a very competitive sport and we want the best of the best. They're looking at this pool of talent and saying, 'Oh, she is the best. I want her.' That's what I think is exciting. It's just limitless."
On how flag and youth football builds the next generation of football fans
"How do you use this sport for so much good? That's what youth football provides us. It's a direct connection to the heartbeat of this game. That is the future of this game.
"Research will tell you, when kids have great experiences with the game, they will go on to either play or they will go on to be fans; avid fans. They are the health of this game, so paying attention to that demographic is so key to the future of this game."
Last Saturday, nearly 150 local Girl Scouts came together for a day of flag football skills and fundamentals on the Bolts' training camp fields at Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Participants heard from Chargers GM Tom Telesco and also received tickets to the team's preseason game vs. the 49ers at SoFi Stadium.
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