Jen Welter Hired as First NFL Female Coach



Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antonio Cromartie (31) intercepts the ball in front of Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams (83) during the fourth quarter on Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)


The National Football League (NFL) is breaking barriers once again. Earlier this year the NFL employed Sarah Thomas, the first female referee. In another historic step, the Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter, the first female coach. As part of an internship, Dr. Welter will be an assistant coach on defense, focusing on inside linebackers, for the summer training camp and preseason.

With her 14 seasons of experience playing pro football in the Women’s Football Alliance, being the first female to play running back in men’s pro Indoor Football League and two gold medals from the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship, Dr. Welter seems more than qualified for the job.

However, critics are pointing out that she has no experience playing in the NFL and therefore cannot lend any experience to coaching. To these remarks, Time Magazine pointed out that many other male coaches have never played in the NFL either, some of which include Vince Lombardi, who was a Fordham graduate and former head coach of the Green Bay Packers,  Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots, and Joe Gibbs, former head coach of the Washington Redskins.

Other critics have taken to Twitter to express their more misogynistic opinions. One Twitter user wrote, “Women have no place in a mans [sic] sport, they should be home cooking and taking care of the children.” Another Twitter user wrote, “What is this nonsense of Arizona hiring a woman to coach in the NFL? Women don’t play real football.” Another Twitter user, tweeted, “Look, I’m all for women’s equality and all but hiring a woman as a football coach in the NFL is one of the dumbest moves I’ve ever seen.”

In response to the negativity, people have shared their support and congratulated Dr. Welter. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright tweeted, “I don’t know much about football, but I do know what it’s like to be first. Congrats to @jwelter47 & the @AZCardinals. I’m rooting for you!” Nicole Kucik, an eboard member of In Strength I stand (ISIS), says, “I hope that this is the threshold to allowing several more women in the sport and hopefully closing the gender gap between male and female coaches and athletes in general.”

Even Vice President Joe Biden has recognized the importance of hiring Dr. Welter tweeting, “Breaking barriers and reaching new heights. Congratulations to Jen Welter. This is what progress looks like.”

However, the most important support comes from Arizona Cardinals staff and players. During Dr. Welter’s introductory news conference, Bruce Arians, head coach of the Cardinals, called her a “trailblazer.” Furthermore, the linebackers she’s coaching are having a positive response to her as well. In an interview with ESPN, Kevin Minter said, “I feel like she’s really benefiting us right now.” During the same interview, Glenn Carson said, “Honestly, she’s like your typical football coach. There’s really no difference whether it’s a guy or girl.” The same opinion could also be said of Becky Hammon, the first female assistant coach who then transitioned into the head coach for the San Antonio Spurs during the Summer League.

Overall, Dr. Welter seems to be a great addition to the Cardinals’ coaching staff. Moreover, she’s an inspiration for women everywhere that anything is possible. As she said in a news conference, “I didn’t start playing football to be here. I didn’t even dream that it was possible. And I think the beauty of this is that, even though it’s a dream I never could’ve had, now it’s a dream other girls can grow up and have.” Although it is uncertain if she will be hired full time, one thing that is certain is that the hiring of a female NFL coach is not a stunt or a ruse, it is progress toward an integrated sport, where people of all sexes and genders can coach and play alongside each other.