NFL hires Jonathan Beane as Senior VP and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

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By Richard Hack

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has named Jonathan Beane as Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer of the National Football League, effective September 8. In this newly created position, Beane will spearhead the league’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, and will collaborate with senior leadership to drive actionable change throughout the league.

“Diversity and inclusion will strengthen our organization and aligns with our values,” said Goodell. “Jonathan joins the NFL at an important time, and we look forward to his broad expertise and leadership on diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and practices for the betterment of our league.”

Beane, who is heterosexual, has held senior diversity roles at Roche, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner, among others. He will be based in the New York office and report to Dasha Smith, Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer.

“During this critical period in our country’s history, I cannot think of a more perfect time to join an iconic organization like the NFL,” said Beane. “The opportunity to serve as the league’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and work closely with league and club executives, ownership and other important stakeholders on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts is an exciting one. This work is where my passion lies,” he concluded.

There are currently 1696 players in the NFL, and none are currently an open member of the LGBTQ community.  Statisticly that would suggest that 85 of them are gay. Yet in all of the 101 years of NFL history, only 13 have publicly come out of the closet and then, only after their retirement, or as a free agent, except openly gay Michael Sam, who was drafted but never played for the Rams.

Dave Kopay (1964-72): Running back with the 49ersLionsRedskinsSaints, and Packers. He donated $1 million to his alma mater, the University of Washington’s Q Center.

Jerry Smith (1965-77): Tight end with the Redskins, who died of AIDS in 1986.

Ray McDonald (1967-68): Running back whose arrest for having sex with another man in public ended his pro career. He died of AIDS in 1993.

Roy Simmons (1979-83): Offensive lineman with the Giants and Redskins who died in 2014 of pneumonia related to HIV.

Jeff Rohrer (1982-89): Linebacker with the Dallas Cowboys who is now living with his ex-wife and his husband.

Esera Tuaolo (1991-99: Defensive tackle with the Packers, VikingsJaguarsFalcons and Panthers, who is now an advocate for the LGBTQ community.

Kwame Harris (2003-2008): Offensive lineman with the 49ers and Raiders, Kwame weighed 300 pounds and stood 6’7″ during his pro career.

Ryan O’Callaghan (2006-2011): Offensive lineman with the Patriots and Chiefs, who was supported by Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft after coming out.

Ryan Russell (2015-17, spent 2018 in Bills camp): Defensive lineman with the Buccaneers and Cowboys.

Plus those who almost went all the way:

Wade Davis (2000-2003): Training camps preseason wide receiver with the TitansSeahawks and Redskins, who became the executive director of You Can Play Too project, and was on the board of New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). Davis has also acted as the NFL’s first volunteer inclusion consultant, and currently advises numerous professional sports leagues on issues at the intersection of sexism, racism and homophobia.

Dorien Bryant (2008): Undrafted free agent wide receiver with the Steelers , who became an outspoken advocate for gays in sports.

Brad Thorson (2011): Preseason prospect as an offensive lineman with the Cardinals. Thorson became an Athlete Ally Pro Ambassador.

Michael Sam (2014): Out gay defensive end was drafted by the Rams, and made headlines when he kissed then-boyfriend Vito Cammisano after the announcement on live television.   Also on the Cowboys practice squad.


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Richard Hack is an award-winning author and journalist. He Is LGBTQ Loyalty Holdings' Vice President of Content and Executive Editor of

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