Cleat Geeks

2 Women Make NFL History

 

This past Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale Arizona Jen Welter walked from the sideline and shook hands with the line judge for the night’s game between the Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs.

Arizona Cardinals training camp assistant linebackers coach Jen Welter talks with line judge Sarah Thomas as Cardinals team president Michael Bidwill, left, watches prior to an NFL preseason football game between the Cardinals and the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Two women in a man dominated sport shook hands on the gridiron. One as a coach, albeit as an intern, and one as the first full-time on-field official. Jen Welter is making history as the intern linebackers coach for the Arizona Cardinals and Sarah Thomas is making history of her own as the first ever full-time official employed by the NFL who is a woman. But on this day the history was two fold as they were both on the same field together doing their respected jobs for their respected employers.

The 41-year-old Thomas had already worked NFL preseason games and training camp, including this year with a variety of teams. She also was the first woman to officiate in major collegiate football plus, work a college bowl game.

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 02:  Intern linebacker coach Jen Welter of the Arizona Cardinals works with linebacker Gabe Martin #41 during the team training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 2, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

GLENDALE, AZ – AUGUST 02: Intern linebacker coach Jen Welter of the Arizona Cardinals works with linebacker Gabe Martin #41 during the team training camp at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 2, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Not to be outdone Jen Welter has also had a distinguished career. The one-time collegiate rugby player played 14 seasons of pro football, mostly in the Women’s Football Alliance. According to the Cardinals, Welter played 14 seasons professionally. Pro Player Insiders notes Welter became the first female to play a non-kicking position in men’s professional football when she played running back for the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League in 2014. She went on to become an assistant coach for the Revolution as well.

During the owners meetings in March at the Arizona Biltmore, someone asked Bruce Arians about the possibility of female coaches in the NFL. “The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they’ll be hired,” Arians said, noting that’s all any player ever really wants. I like the fact that he was true to his word.

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