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The Tenth Annual Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Salute To Excellence Awards

These coaches were among many who were selected as Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Salute to Excellence Honorees.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents highlights of the 10th Annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Salute To Excellence Awards held during Super Bowl XLIX week.

Seven top executives of NFL teams, four African-American head coaches, one Latino head coach and a senior vice president with major league baseball were honored at a unique event during Super Bowl XLIX Week in Phoenix. The Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation honored these trailblazers at their 10th Annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. “Salute to Excellence Awards.” The Fritz Pollard Allianceis an organization of NFL executives and others who work to increase access and opportunities for minorities interested in coaching, front office and scouting positions in the National Football League.

The Alliance is an outgrowth of efforts by the late Johnnie L. Cochran Jr., Cyrus Mehri and John Wooten who pressured the NFL for better minority inclusion. That resulted in the Rooney Rule, which requires NFL teams to interview minorities for head coaching and top executive positions.

Honored with the Paul J. Tagliabue Award were Wendy Lewis, Senior Vice President of Diversity and Strategic Alliances, Major League Baseball; and Ray Anderson, Vice President for University Athletics and Athletic Director, Arizona State University.

Top NFL executives honored were: Katie Blackburn, Executive Vice President, Cincinnati Bengals; Jimmy Raye III, Vice President of Football Operations, Indianapolis Colts; Cedric Saunders, Vice President of Football Operations, Detroit Lions; Sheldon White, Vice President of Pro Personnel, Detroit Lions; Omar Khan, Director of Football and Business Administration, Pittsburgh Steelers; Ozzie Newsome, General Manager and Executive Vice President, Baltimore Ravens; and Martin Mayhew, Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager, Detroit Lions.

Four head coaches, Mike Tomlin, Head Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers; Jim Caldwell, Head Coach, Detroit Lions; Marvin Lewis, Head Coach, Cincinnati Bengals; and Ron Rivera, Head Coach, Carolina Panthers were also honored.

John L. Hanson is the producer and host of the nationally syndicated radio series In Black America. It’s heard on home station KUT at 10 p.m. Tuesdays and 6:30 a.m. Sundays — and weekly on close to 20 stations across the country. The weekly podcast of IBA, the only nationally broadcast Black-oriented public affairs radio program, is one of KUT’s most popular podcasts.