08/04/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
While most of the news involving the interaction between NFL linebackers and women has been negative as of late. But the Arizona Cardinals bringing in Jen Welter as the first ever female coach in the NFL is full of positivity.
Welter became the first woman ever to hold any kind of a coaching position when Arizona brought her in as a training camp/pre season intern, where she will coach the Cardinals inside linebackers. Blurring the lines of football is something Welter is no stranger to though. Besides a 14 year career as a professional women's player, Welter became the first female player to ever play a non kicking position in a professional men's league in 2014 when she played running back in for the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League. In February of this year, she also became the first woman to coach a professional men's team when she was named linebackers and special teams coach for the Revolution.
Combined with Sarah Thomas being hired on as the first full time female referee, this is ground breaking stuff for the NFL. These are big steps in a never before taken direction. These are great opportunities for Welter and Thomas, but this is also a great opportunity for the NFL. With so much negative light being shed on the NFL due to the rash of domestic violence incidents, this gives the NFL the opportunity to shed some positive light while taking steps in a new direction as far as women getting a chance to play major roles in the NFL.
So far, Welter has said her experience with the Cardinals in training camp has been great. She's said she doesn't feel like she's been treated any differently so far because she's a woman. Thomas has said she will continue to tuck her hair under her cap because she doesn't want the fact she's a woman to be what stands out, she wants to be seen as just another, regular official. I'm not sure if that means she wants to be sworn at and hated by fans of any team that her calls on the field negatively effect though.
Thomas will be a full time official and employed by the NFL like all of her male counterparts will this season. Welter on the other hand, only has her gig until the pre season ends. So she'll be trying to show what she can do over the next month. Thomas earned her way up as an official, starting on the high school level, then on the collegiate level, then as an official for NFL pre season games. Perhaps Welter will blaze that same trail and in a few years we'll be hearing about her being hired as the first full time female coach in the NFL?
According to the NFL, 45% of its fan base is female. Sarah Thomas and Jen Welter will hopefully show some of those ladies that they may have a future in professional football being more than just fans.
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