Jen Welter Hired by Cardinals, Believed to Be 1st Female Coach in NFL

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIJuly 28, 2015

Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals are believed to be the first team in the NFL to hire a female coach after adding Jen Welter to their staff Monday as a training camp and preseason coaching intern.

Darren Urban reported the news via the Cardinals' official website, which featured comments from head coach Bruce Arians on the landmark decision to welcome Welter into the fold:

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.

[...] She came for an OTA and I met her, and I thought she was the type of person that could handle this in a very positive way for women and open that door.

Arians added Welter had "earned this," per Peter King of The MMQB. 

Welter took to Twitter to express her appreciation for the opportunity:

Dr. Jen Welter @jwelter47

Thank you @AZCardinals & @BruceArians & everyone here in #Phoenix. I am honored to join this amazing #footballfamily http://t.co/QhepPdgsVQ

Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman shared a text he received from a player in the AFC on Welter, "The truth is, she has more playing experience than some of the coaches who coach me now."

The NFL may traditionally be a man's league, but Welter has the background to handle the spotlight. She played football professionally for 14 years and most recently served as an assistant coach for the Indoor Football League's Texas Revolution.

Welter also entered a game as a running back for the Revolution last year, becoming the first woman to appear in a men's pro football contest at a contact position.

A few months ago, Freeman publicly professed that Welter had a chance to be in the NFL someday, yet he was still rather surprised by Monday's news:

mike freeman @mikefreemanNFL

I wrote in March Jen Welter would be an assistant in the NFL one day. Just didn't think it would be this soon. http://t.co/iWdeiK9TmX

Bringing Welter aboard is fitting for a franchise that has embraced progress and created an exciting brand of football as a result. The addition of Welter figures to breed more positive energy and enthusiasm within the organization.

The Cardinals have experienced quite a culture change since Arians took the reins in 2013. Arians is known for his vertical passing-based offense, aggressive style and overall confidence, which has evidently rubbed off on his players and earned their respect as they've compiled a 21-11 record over the last two seasons.

That bold attitude includes the front office and general manager Steve Keim, who's been unafraid to take risks in the draft. Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu and wide receiver John Brown were both polarizing third-round picks, but they've emerged as playmakers.

Welter has a long way to go to climb the NFL coaching ladder, but she's already broken new ground.

Although Welter isn't quite in the position San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon was in recently when she led the squad to an NBA Summer League title, Welter's gig in the desert provides the vital foundation for something greater.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.