Most everyone these days claims to have their whole life saved on their phone. For Aaron Glenn, though, his phone may now contain the key to his future as an NFL head coach.
The Lions defensive coordinator and longtime defensive back was one of 60-plus participants in the NFL’s new Front Office Accelerator program, which took place in Atlanta during the league’s recent spring owners’ meeting.
Glenn played for Dallas in 2005 and 2006 under head coach Bill Parcells. He also played for the Jets, Texans, Jaguars, and Saints, and had coaching stops in Cleveland and New Orleans before landing in Detroit on the staff of head coach Dan Campbell, one of his old Cowboys’ teammates.
That’s a lot of experience in a lot of NFL facilities, a lot of up-close-and-personal time with a lot of of coaches and team executives.
But unfortunately, despite a healthy list of business contacts and personal references, Glenn is still at a disadvantage when it comes to climbing the coaching ladder in the NFL.
So the league asked each team to nominate two minority or female assistants- prospective head coach or front office candidates- to attend the spring session. There, they would spend two days meeting and interacting with team owners whom they would otherwise be hard-pressed to get time with.
The Cowboys sent two from their current staff: assistant director of college scouting Chris Vaugh and secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr. This offseason, Whitt received interest from several clubs- Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Baltimore- to be their new defensive coordinator.
He, like Glenn, is thought to be a strong head coach candidate in the very near future.
Peter King shared Glenn’s experience in his latest Football Morning in America column.
Glenn called the program “a really good experience,” one that helped him gain exposure and make solid connections with several team leaders, including the Cowboys’ executive vice president Stephen Jones.
“I had maybe 40 minutes with Stephen Jones,” Glenn said, “and a lot of what we talked about was who was the best NBA player of all time: LeBron, Kobe, or Michael Jordan. I found it amazing, the commonality between me and the majority of these owners on so many things. The only difference is their bank accounts are bigger than mine.”
NFL minority coaches posing for a group shoot after the leagues first accelerator program designed to get these coaches in front of owners and top executives pic.twitter.com/44sAiJYwaG
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Glenn says his mindset going in was to be himself, to let the owners get to know his real personality.
“Me coming to the meeting didn’t change anything about me,” Glenn told King. “I feel like I am an NFL head coach. How the owners feel, I can’t answer that. The change now has to be: Do they feel I’m worthy?”
That answer will only come with time, with future coaches’ hiring cycles. Will candidates like Glenn, Whitt, and Vaugh get more interviews? Will they be seriously considered for top openings? Will they get hired as head coaches?
“Is this the answer? No. Is it part of a solution? It may be,” NFL executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent told King. “This is a new day. It’s not about forcing anyone to hire anyone. It’s about exposing good coaches to those who make the calls.”
And if Glenn gets the call, it may ultimately be thanks to a two-day networking event where a room full of up-and-coming football assistants and established team owners got together to shake hands, share experiences, and exchange contact info.
“I not only talked to them, but exchanged personal phone numbers,” Glenn said. “I told my wife, ‘My phone is worth a trillion dollars now.’ Those conversations didn’t have a lot to do with football, [but] who am I as a person, who are they as people.”