NFL next to break down barriers

Written by: LaShawn Encarnacion aka The Dark Knight of Sports

With the NBA Summer League coming to a close and its first ever female head coach, San Antonio Spurs Becky Hammon leading the team to the NBA Summer League Championship, it was only a matter of time before another big barrier was going to be broken for more equality in professional sports.

Last night that break came in the NFL and the Arizona Cardinals when Dr. Jen Welter was signed as a coaching intern to the Cardinals coaching staff.

When Bruce Arians was asked about his new coach he made clear his thoughts.

“Coaching is nothing more than teaching,” Arians explained Monday, via the team’s official website. “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.”

Coach Arians reinforced his decision in a text exchange with Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report, sharing that one AFC player acknowledged, “The truth is, she has more playing experience than some of the coaches who coach me now.”

Besides having her doctorate in Psychology, Welter played running back and special teams for the Indoor Football League’s Texas Revolution in February of 2014, becoming the first female to play a non-kicking position in a men’s professional football league. Welter went on to work under Revolution general manager and 2015 Hall of Fame inductee Tim Brown, becoming the first female to coach in a men’s pro football league.

Arians went on to express the obvious culture change that is taking place in the world of sports as it comes to women.

“Since 2000, changes have been pretty damn rapid in a lot of ways,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich recently opined. “And I think people are fed up with injustice and with people not respecting other people’s space and who they are. I think it’s a step in the right direction.”

And you know what, Bruce Arians and Gregg Popovich are right. Women are becoming well-rounded in their abilities. Women in positions of power is becoming more common in today’s society. Not just on the court like Maya Moore or Skylar Diggins or Ella Della Donne, not just in the octagon like Ronda Rousey who continues to revolutionize the world of MMA and the UFC brand and definitely not like Serena Williams has in the world of tennis.

Women continue to prove they can fly and thrive in high power positions. Stephanie McMahon who is Chief Brand Officer and minority owner of one of the most successful companies in the world, World Wrestling Entertainment. How about Mary Barra who is CEO of General Motors (GM) or Indra Nooyi who is chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo, the second largest company in the world.

So why not break another barrier when it comes to women being as equal as men. If Becky Hammon who was an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs last season could prove her value and hard work and earn a shot to coach AND WIN a Summer League Championship then why can’t another major pro sports team take that kind of risk. Well Bruce Arians did and now the spotlight is on the Arizona Cardinals and one Jen Welter.

Only time will tell but since she will have access to training camps and preseason games it is one small step for man, one GIANT leap for human equality.


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