CBS- On Monday, the Arizona Cardinals did something that no other NFL team in the history of the league has done before. The Cardinals are believed to be the first team to add a female coach to their staff.
Jen Welter, 37, will join the Cardinals coaching staff for the summer. Welter will help coach the team's inside linebackers during training camp and the preseason. Welter's role isn't a long-term job, as she'll be a coaching intern during the summer, but it's still a likely NFL first and has the potential to lead to further opportunities.
"I really believe she'll have a great opportunity through this internship to open some doors," said Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians (via the team's website).
Prior to likely making history, Welter played rugby at Boston College and has 14-plus years of football experience, mainly with the Women's Football Alliance's Dallas Diamonds. In 2014, Welter played running back and special teams for the Indoor Football League's Texas Revolution. And, this year, Welter was an assistant coach for the Revolution.
According to The Arizona Republic, Devin Wyman, the head coach of the Revolution, recommended Welter to Arians after hearing Arians mention that a woman could coach in the NFL.
"I wanted to open that door," Arians said. "Coaching is nothing more than teaching. The one thing I've learned from players: All they want to know is 'How you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don't (care) if you're the Green Hornet. I'll listen.'"
I don't doubt that a woman can successfully coach in the NFL. I don't doubt that Jen Welter could absolutely shame me with her wealth of football knowledge. What I do doubt is the motives behind this move. Am I just supposed to believe that Jen Welter is the most qualified person for the position? It would be one thing if Bruce Arians hadn't publicly endorsed the idea of a female coach no more than 4 months ago. Oh man, what a coincidence. The first man to speak on behalf of a female's qualifications just so happens to have found the first qualified female. It just seems far too set up to me. Is it still considered progressive if it's done intentionally with public relations in mind? Furthermore, is this move still happening without last year's array of domestic abuse cases? First it was female officials, and not it's female coaches? It just feels like the NFL is consciously trying to get more women involved, which makes a lot of sense considering their reputation over the last 12 months. However, don't sit here and tell me she's the best person for the job when in reality it's not about her, but what she represents. Just look how this all unfolded. Arians mentions female coaches, gets contacted about a female coach, hires her and then says in an interview "I wanted to open that door". That seems like the very definition of affirmative action if you ask me.
Quick question. How many coaches, men or women, have been hired after one year's worth of work in the 'Champions Indoor Football League'? That question doesn't even deserve an answer. You know why Arians is giving her an internship? Because she doesn't know enough with her minimal experience to coach professional football players. "Come on in Jen, and while you're at it I'll take a coffee with two sugars". If anything this shows that women aren't being treated as equals. How many men get brought in for a preseason internship? Giving a woman a job that was never available to men doesn't make her equal, it makes her a distraction. I appreciate Bruce Arians trying to go the route of Gregg Popovich and Becky Hammon, but at least in basketball women have a respected professional league that doesn't require them to play in their underwear. Jen Welter may work for an NFL team for a period of time, but she's not an NFL coach, nor does she deserve to be.