The Arizona Cardinals have hired Jen Welter as a “training camp/preseason intern coaching inside linebackers,” making her the first female coach in NFL history. Welter, who played 14 seasons of professional football and was on the staff of the Texas Revolution in the Indoor Football League before Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians hired her, has a pretty extensive resume for an intern:
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.
As a “training camp/preseason intern,” Welter obviously isn’t being placed in a position of great power and responsibility, but this is how barriers are broken down. Becky Hammon is getting serious traction as a legitimate head coaching candidate in the NBA, which is in part due to the fact that Lisa Boyer became the first female coach in the NBA when she was a volunteer assistant for the Cavs in 2001-02. Welter isn’t shoving the door to female NFL coaches open just yet, but she is helping open it a crack for others.
And who knows what will happen? According to Arians, this will only be the first of many opportunities for Welter: “I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her.”