Lions' Glenn, Agnew to take part in NFL's inaugural leadership accelerator program

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

In a continued effort to address the league's lack of head-coaching and front-office diversity, the NFL announced plans for an inaugural leadership development program on Thursday, aiming to help build and strengthen the pipeline for female and minority candidates. 

The NFL announced 60 participants will participate in the two-day program, which will take place next week, coinciding with the spring league meetings in Atlanta. The participants were selected via nomination from the 32 teams and include defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and assistant general manager Ray Agnew from the Detroit Lions.

Former Lions assistant and current Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams and former Michigan assistant head coach Pep Hamilton are also listed among the participants. 

"The NFL is committed to diversity and inclusion, and this program is the latest in a series of steps designed to improve our hiring practices and create opportunities for advancement," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "The program helps ensure that clubs receive exposure to high-performing, up-and-coming NFL talent and candidates get a chance to learn the business on a working level from team owners and executives."

Aaron Glenn joined the Lions as a defensive coordinator last year.

The program is set to include leadership development sessions with football operations experts, as well as direct networking opportunities with the league's owners. 

Glenn, a former All-Pro cornerback who played 15 seasons in the NFL, joined the Lions as a defensive coordinator last year. Prior to accepting the position, he was interviewed for the New York Jets' head-coaching vacancy. He had two additional head-coaching interviews this offseason, with Denver and New Orleans, the latter where he spent the previous five seasons coaching the team's defensive backs. 

"I love AG," Lions coach Dan Campbell said ahead of the interview with the Saints. "Listen, I do not want to lose AG, that's how much I think of him and what he's brought to us and the life he's given our defense and knowing where it's going to go. I'm just telling you the guy is going to be a home run as a head coach. He's passionate, he's smart, he's got a good feel of personnel, how to use his own guys."

Agnew also joined the Lions last offseason, following general manager Brad Holmes from the Los Angles Rams. 

Ray Agnew

An 11-year pro who played along the defensive line for three franchises, Agnew transitioned into a director of player development and team pastor role with the Rams after his playing career. From there, he moved up the ladder, eventually becoming the team's director of pro personnel. 

In Detroit, he serves as Holmes' right-hand man, playing a critical role in the evaluation of free agents. 

This program is the latest effort by the league to improve its diversity hiring practices. The NFL continues to employ its expanded and refined Rooney Rule. Implemented in 2003, it now requires teams to interview at least two minority candidates for top-level positions, including head coach, general manager and offensive and defensive coordinator. 

Additionally, in 2021 the league introduced a new compensatory program to reward teams for the development of minority candidates. The rule was first utilized when the Lions hired Holmes from the Rams last offseason, netting his former franchise two third-round draft selections. 

Still, despite those efforts, the league continues to face scrutiny, and that spotlight only got brighter this offseason after former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the league and multiple teams, alleging racism in hiring practices. 

Following this offseason's hiring cycle, there are currently six minority head coaches, as well as five general managers.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers