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NFL minority coaching fellowship attracts 83 participants


Eighty-three minorities are taking part in this summer's NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship Program, the NFL announced today.

Also this year, the Minority Coaching Program produced its fourth graduate to be named an NFL head coach.

The graduate is new Pittsburgh Steelers head coach MIKE TOMLIN, who joins HERM EDWARDS of the Kansas City Chiefs, MARVIN LEWIS of the Cincinnati Bengals and LOVIE SMITH of the Chicago Bears as active head-coach graduates of the program.

Tomlin, who is only the Steelers' third head coach in the past 38 years, interned with the Cleveland Browns in the summer of 2000 when he was the defensive backs coach of the University of Cincinnati.

Tomlin definitely feels that the fellowship prepared him for his new job. "The coaching fellowship gave me an opportunity to learn what I needed to do if I wanted to coach in the NFL," he says. "As a head coach, I plan to utilize the fellowship to the fullest to give others the same opportunities that were afforded to me."

The fellowship provides training-camp coaching positions for minority coaches at NFL clubs. More than 1,200 minority coaches have participated in the program.

Tomlin's ascension was just one of many notable appointments for minority coaches and administrators - some with fellowship experience -- in the NFL and colleges in the offseason:

» HUE JACKSON was named the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator by new head coach Bobby Petrino. Jackson partook in the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship in 1995 with the Washington Redskins when he was an assistant at Arizona State.

» RANDY SHANNON became the first African-American head coach of the Miami Hurricanes. Shannon, a linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys in 1989-90, participated in two minority fellowships as an assistant with Miami - with Dallas in 1993 and Chicago in 1994.

» REGGIE BARLOW, a wide receiver for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996-03, was named head coach of his alma mater, Alabama State. Barlow tutored Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson as ASU's quarterback coach.

» GEORGE KOONCE, a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks from 1992-00 and the Packers' director of player development in 2006, was appointed senior associate athletic director of Marquette University. Koonce has a master's degree in sports management from East Carolina.

» JERRY REESE was named only the New York Giants' third general manager in the past 27 years. The team's director of player personnel, he learned of his elevation on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 15). "I thought about that a lot, and it was perfect timing," says Reese.

Following is a list of some NFL coaches who have participated in the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship Program:

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