Chicago Bears Assistant General Manager Ian Cunningham was among those participating in the NFL’s Front Office Accelerator Diversity Initiative program this week. In short, the program aids in efforting to increase diversity in front offices around the league by getting a mix of diverse GM prospects some extra exposure. It is a pretty cool initiative from the NFL, especially since the league is trying to put into action what it has been speaking about in the wake of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s statements admitting the league was wrong for not listening to Colin Kaepernick when it came to diversity and racial injustice.
Actions speak louder than words. And finally, the actions are starting to come around. At a minimum, programs like the Front Office Accelerator feel like a promising start.
It’s a brief clip, but Cunningham discussing the NFL’s front office accelerator program with NFL Senior VP/Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Jonathan Beane is pretty cool.
Cunningham says he got a chance to do some networking with his colleagues, meet with different members of different organizations, and attend seminars. All in all, this seems like a good thing to help boost some profiles of worthwhile future GM candidates. Obviously, that stuff will help top front office lieutenants like Cunningham and his contemporaries. But there could also be a benefit to the Bears down the line.
Follow me for a moment.
In May 2020, the NFL began considering draft incentives for teams hiring minority head coaches and general managers. And it wasn’t long after that before it passed and became part of the NFL. If the Bears were to lose Cunningham because another team was hiring him to become their GM, then the team would be eligible for a compensatory draft pick. The Chiefs were able to get one after the Bears hired Ryan Poles away from that organization. Based on Cunningham’s career trajectory, it wouldn’t be surprising if his arrow continued to point up to the point where another team took him away from Chicago. That’s just how the cookie crumbles in the NFL.
Cunningham has been successful in previous stops with the Ravens and Eagles. And, so far, things are going well with the Bears. Cunningham and Poles have been together in lockstep throughout the year. That video of their three-city scouting trip looking for future Bears resonates with me. But there is more. Cunningham’s relationship with Philly GM Howie Roseman helped push the Robert Quinn trade across the finish line. And during the last offseason, Cunningham was seen as a secret weapon in the Bears’ rebuilding project. Simply put, seeing Cunningham go would be an unfortunate loss.
But the compensatory draft pick that could come back to the Bears upon his departure would help soften the blow. However, we can cross that bridge when we get to it. Maybe Cunningham will stick around for a while and help Chicago’s rebuilding efforts. Perhaps his time to run his own ship will come in a few years. If this keeps up, and Cunningham continues attending these future GM events, his time will come soon enough.