Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The 12th Annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Salute To Excellence Awards

Frederick Douglass "Fritz" Pollard was the first African-American coach in the National Football League.

On this edition of In Black America, producer/host John L. Hanson Jr. presents highlights of the 12th annual Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Salute to Excellence Awards held during Super Bowl XL week.

Several top executives of NFL teams and two African-American head coaches were honored at the unique event in Houston. The awards are sponsored by the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, 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 league.

The foundation 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 Rick Smith, executive vice president of football operations and general manager for the Houston Texans; and Robert McNair, founder, chairman and CEO of the Houston Texans.

Top NFL executives honored were Ted Crews, vice president of communications for the Kansas City Chiefs; and Reggie McKenzie, general manager for the Oakland Raiders.

Two head coaches, Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jim Caldwell of the Detroit Lions,were also honored, as were many high school and college coaches and athletes.

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.