Former Steelers offensive coordinator and current Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians made a bold move today by announcing Jen Welter will be joining the coaching staff as a summer intern.
He said, via the Cardinals website, "I really believe she'll have a great opportunity through this internship to open some doors." Arians predicted, "The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they'll be hired." He also added, "(The players) were all very cool with it. It's not going to be a distraction in any way."
Welter played rugby at Boston college and has played football for over 14 years, including time as a running back and special teams player in semi-professional women's leagues. This year she was an assistant coach for the Texas Revolution. Though she will only be on board through the rest of the preseason, Bruce Arians noted the significance of this move. "I wanted to open that door," he said.
This is not the first time Arians' hiring decisions have made the news. In 2013 The Wall Street Journal did a story on the number of geriatric coaches on the Cardinals staff, which the article's author called the Over the Hill Gang. Assistant Head Coach Tom Moore is 77 while Assistant offensive line coach Larry Zierlein is 70.
Perhaps the highest profile NFL female employee is Sarah Thomas, hired this year as a full-time official. The San Antonio Spurs have a full-time, paid assistant female coach in Becky Hammon who was the Spurs' summer league head coach prior to her promotion.