The Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter as an inside linebackers coaching intern for training camp and the preseason on July 27. She is believed to be the first female NFL coach.
Jen Welter has made history as the first female coach in the National Football League (NFL).
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According to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com, the NFL's Arizona Cardinals tapped Welter to be their inside linebackers coaching intern for this year's training camp and preseason. Urban confirms Welter's distinction as the first woman to coach in football's highest level.
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arian told Urban on Monday he believes this will be "a great opportunity" for Welter:
"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."
"Someone asked me yesterday, 'When are we going to have female coaches?'" Arians told ESPN's Josh Weinfuss on Monday. "The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they'll be hired."
Arians told AZCardinals.com his players "were all very cool" with the idea of bringing in Welter. "It's not going to be a distraction in any way," he added.
Cardinals team president Michael Bidwill approved Welter's hire without hesitation, per AZCentral.com's Kent Somers.
Somers says it was last spring when a reporter asked Arians about his opinion on NFL game official Sarah Thomas when the Cardinals head coach first brought up the idea of a woman possibly coaching in the NFL.
Urban stresses Welter's hire is "another step toward diversity." She has a postgraduate degree in sports psychology and a doctorate in psychology. Welter previously played running back and and special teams for the Indoor Football League's Texas Revolution last year, making her the first woman to play a non-kicking position in a men's pro football league.
Welter also played for Team USA in the International Federation of American Football Women's World Championship in 2010 and 2013, winning the gold medal on both occasions, per AZCardinals.com.
Welter's pro football career spanned 14 years. She played mostly as a linebacker for the Dallas Diamonds of the Women's Football Alliance, winning four titles along the way, per ESPN.
Urban says Welter's coaching career with the Cardinals coincides with other women making it big in men's professional sports.
The NFL hired Thomas to be its first full-time female official several months ago while Becky Hammon became the first woman to serve as head coach of an NBA Summer League team when she called the shots for the San Antonio Spurs several weeks ago, per AZCardinals.com.
Hammon, the Spurs' assistant coach, led the team to a Summer League title, per Urban.
On the same day the Cardinals announced Welter's hire, they also hired former Pro Bowl linebacker and 11-year NFL veteran Levon Kirkland to work with outside linebackers under the Bill Bidwill Coaching Fellowship, per AZCardinals.com.
Urban says the duration of Kirkland's coaching tenure with the Cardinals is for two seasons.
The Cardinals will hold a press conference on Tuesday, July 28, to announce the hiring of Welter, per Weinfuss.
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