The team announced a statement regarding the news, via Josh Reed of WIVB Sports:
Josh Reed @4JoshReed
#Bills make coaching history. https://t.co/OaMpGwX8kH2016-1-21 02:01:33
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk first reported the news Wednesday. Smith will report to special teams coordinator Danny Crossman.
Smith issued a statement on Thursday regarding the news, via NFL on ESPN:
NFL on ESPN @ESPNNFL
Kathryn Smith releases a statement on being named the Bills quality control-special teams coach. https://t.co/lEKy3rENCE2016-1-21 23:45:44
"I just like the way she is," head coach Rex Ryan said Friday, per Joe Buscaglia of WKBW. "She's really all about the team and how she can help. Exceeded what we thought she'd do."
She has been part of Ryan's staff for the last seven years but never officially as part of the coaching staff. She held an administrative assistant position each of the last two seasons, and before that she worked within the New York Jets' player personnel department.
Smith's hiring is a monumental moment for gender progress in the NFL, and it's been a long time coming. Jen Welter became the NFL's first female assistant of any kind before the 2015 season, serving under head coach Bruce Arians during training camp. Her position was temporary—teams regularly hire additional assistants on a temp basis to handle the extra players in camp—but it nonetheless opened a door Smith will walk through.
James Washington Is the Top Riser at WR for NFL Draft
Eagles Fans Celebrated Exactly as You Would Expect
Melvin Gordon Keeps It Real About the Pats
Draft Prospects to Target If You Miss Out on Top Guys
Future 1st Rounders in 2018 Recruiting Class
Winners and Losers from Senior Bowl Week
Winners, Losers of Conference Championships
Winners and Losers of Divisional Round
Lefkoe's Locks: Gambling Preview and Prediction for Divisional Sunday
Simms in 60: It's Disrespectful to Count Out Underdog Eagles in Divisional Round
Lefkoe's Locks: Gambling Preview and Prediction for Divisional Saturday
Who's 2018 NFL Draft's Version of Alvin Kamara?
Browns Fans Throw Parade in Honor of 0-16
Lefkoe's Locks: Gambling Preview and Prediction for Wild Card Sunday
Winners, Losers of NFL Wild Card Weekend
Simms in 60: Rams Are Wild Card Weekend Team with Best Chance at Super Bowl Run
Lefkoe Locks of the Week Gambling - Saturday
49ers Take Home O-Line of the Week
Simms in 60: Gronk, Not Brady, Is MVP of New England Patriots Offense
Last year, the NFL also hired Sarah Thomas as the first female referee in history. She worked as a full-time official during the 2015 season.
While this is a promising step, the NFL is not the first league to welcome women into the coaches box. The NBA has long been at the forefront of the gender equality issue. Lisa Boyer was a volunteer assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001-02, and the San Antonio Spurs hired Becky Hammon as an assistant before the 2014-15 campaign. Nancy Lieberman became the second full-time female assistant in the NBA in 2015.
In September, the Oakland Athletics made Justine Siegal the first woman to hold a coaching position with an MLB team. As it stands, the NHL is the only one of the United States' four major professional sports leagues yet to make a major step on the gender equality front.
Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter