The NFL and football as a sport have long been male-dominated at every level of competition, coaching and officiating. In the just the last few months, however, the league hired its first full-time female referee and the Arizona Cardinals hired the first female coach. In terms of pure ratios, this is by no means a huge diversification of gender in the NFL, but based on the league's history, it's an unprecedented set of hires that pave the way for future women who love football and want to work in the game's biggest league.
Over the weekend, Sarah Thomas and Jen Welter met briefly before a preseason game between the Cardinals and the Kansas City Chiefs. They shook hands and exchanged a few private words, marking a historic intersection between two women unassumingly becoming pioneers of their respective professions.
Thomas toldNFL Network in a recent interview that she "set out to do this and get involved in officiating not having any idea that there were not any females officiating football." Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said of Welter that he "found her really passionate about football. I asked if she was serious about it, and if so, I would love to give you the opportunity to coach with us. She jumped on it. She loves to coach."
Both women weren't as concerned as the rest of us about being the first women to hold the jobs they currently do, but their success is impressive all the same. Here's to watching plenty of inspired women follow in their footsteps.