It has been a banner year for women in men’s professional sports; not only in the NFL, but in the NBA as well. The NFL will be bringing in their first full-time female official in Sarah Thomas for this season and the San Antonio Spurs hired Becky Hammon as an assistant coach last season. This summer, she was the Spurs’ summer league head coach and led the team to championship in Vegas.
During the owners meetings back in March at the Arizona Biltmore, someone asked Bruce Arians about the possibility of female coaches in the NFL.
“The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they’ll be hired,” Arians said, because that’s all that any player really wants.
The revolution of women in in men’s professional sports in substantial positions is coming around the corner. Soon after those comments; Arians heard from the coach of the Texas Revolution in the Indoor Football League, who informed Arians that the Revolution already had a female on its staff that would be worth a look.
On Monday, Arians brought in Jen Welter as a training camp/preseason intern coaching inside linebackers. Welter, played rugby in college, and 14 seasons of pro football, mostly in the Women’s Football Alliance. Welter is believed to be the first woman to hold a coaching position of any kind in the NFL.
Welter, who holds a master’s degree in sport psychology and a PhD in psychology, was the first female to play a non-kicking position in a men’s pro football league when she played running backs and special teams for the Revolution in 2014. She also won two gold medals playing for Team USA in the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship in 2010 and 2013.
“She came for an OTA and I met her and I thought she was the type of person that could handle this in a very positive way for women and open that door,” Arians said, according to a report at azcardinals.com.
The cardinals are not shy about bringing diversity to the forefront and inspiring change. Bidwill, who was honored for promoting diversity in the NFL by the Fritz Polland Alliance in 2010, was the first owner to hire an African American female executive when Adele Harris was named the team’s director of community relations in 1978. Bidwill also made Bob Wallace the first African American to handle contracts for an NFL club in 1981, and the Cards were the first to have an African-American tandem at both General Manager and head coach when Rod Graves and Dennis Green were hired for those positions in 2004.
Arians said it wouldn’t be up to him whether putting a woman on his staff first would impact his legacy, but reiterated that he hopes it creates further opportunities for Welter and other women.