The NFL is gaining diversity in its executive ranks with the hire of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as the new Minnesota Vikings’ general manager.
Adofo-Mensah will be the seventh Black NFL GM, joining his former boss Andrew Berry of the Cleveland Browns, Chris Grier of the Miami Dolphins, Martin Mayhew of the Washington Football Team, Terry Fontenot of the Atlanta Falcons, Brad Holmes of the Detroit Lions and Ryan Poles, who the Chicago Bears hired on January 25th.
If you don’t keep up on professional football org charts, GM is at the top of the pyramid as football’s equivalent to the president of a company. They usually report directly to team owners and have responsibility for hiring coaching staffs, constructing rosters and the team’s overall success on the field.
Adofo-Mensah didn’t play play college or professional football unlike many other GMs but his background outside of football is in part what’s made him valuable as an exec inside the sport.
From the Athletic
Throughout this search, the Vikings made clear that they weren’t necessarily tied to the traditional route of a scout working his way up to eventually becoming an assistant general manager before taking on a head job. The selection of the 40-year-old Adofo-Mensah further solidifies that.
Adofo-Mensah graduated from Princeton (where he was a walk-on on the basketball team) with a degree in economics, then earned his master’s degree from Stanford. He worked as a day trader before entering the NFL only nine years ago.
His hiring also illustrates that sports, like any other industry, having a network of Black execs creates a pipeline that builds on itself.
His ascension to his new role came after working under Berry as the Browns’ vice president of football operations for two years. Berry, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard and played college football there, became the Browns’ GM two years ago today.
But Adofo-Mensah’s rise doesn’t come close to erasing the NFL’s problems with diversity on the sidelines or in its front offices. There are no Black majority owners among the NFL’s 32 ownership groups. Last week, it was reported that America’s richest Black man, Robert F. Smith, might have interest in buying the Denver Broncos.
Meanwhile, after last week’s ridiculous Black Monday firings, there’s still only one Black head coach left in the league.