Arizona Cardinals Make History, Hire First Female NFL Coach
Jen Welter may not be a name you know, but she's a trailblazer in the NFL.
Welter, 37, became the first woman to coach in the league when she was named a training camp/preseason intern with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday.
Welter has the resume to make her more than a novelty. She played running and special teams last year for the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League, making her the first woman to play a position other than kicker in a pro football league for men. She also scored a pair of gold medals for the US at the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship in 2010 and 2013.
Welter was a linebacker for over 14 seasons in the Women's Football Alliance, winning four titles.
While with the Revolution, Welter also worked under Hall of Famer Tim Brown, who served as the team's general manager.
It sounds like Welter may be received with open arms. One player from an AFC team told Bleacher Report, "The truth is, she has more playing experience than some of the coaches who coach me now."
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said he's proud to be part of this historic decision:
Coaching is nothing more than teaching,. One thing I have learned from players is, ‘How are you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don’t care if you’re the Green Hornet, man, I’ll listen.’ I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her."
Welter, who played rugby at Boston College, has a master's in sport psychology and a PhD in psychology.
She continues a trend of women making serious strides in sports. Last year, the San Antonio Spurs made assistant Becky Hammon the first woman to hold a full-time coaching job in any of the four major pro sports in the US.
Welter is the second pioneer the NFL has welcomed just this year. Back in April, the league made Sarah Thomas the first full-time official. It's quite a leap for the NFL, which took serious heat last year for the way it viewed women in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal.
And, then, of course, the US Women's National Soccer Team captured the country's heart with its run to the World Cup title.
Reaction to Welter's hiring has certainly been positive, too: