The Buffalo Bills announced on Wednesday that Kathryn Smith has been hired to be their new special teams quality control coach, making Smith the first full-time female assistant coach in the NFL. The position became available after the Bills announced Michael Hamlin would not return in 2016.
"Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff," head coach Rex Ryan said in a statement to ESPN. "She certainly deserves this promotion based on her knowledge and strong commitment, just to name a couple of her outstanding qualities, and I just know she's going to do a great job serving in the role of Quality Control-Special Teams."
Smith, 30, is a former administrative assistant in the NFL. She held that position for 12 years beginning with the New York Jets, including when Ryan served as the head coach there. Ryan hired Smith as his administrative assistant when the Bills hired him in 2015.
Some of her new responsibilities this season will likely include organizing some of the special teams' practices, reviewing game film and assisting the special teams coordinator, Danny Crossman.
Smith grew up in Central New York and developed a passion for sports while in high school. She also studied sports management at St. John's University.
While Smith is the first full-time coach in the NFL, other women have served previously in administrative, scouting and executive roles.
In 2015, Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians hired Jen Welter as a coaching intern for the inside linebackers during training camp. Ryan spoke with Arians about this experience before hiring Smith.
"I consulted with Bruce Arians on this since he was really the first NFL head coach to make this kind of move when he hired a female linebackers coach through the summer," Ryan said, according to an NFL.com statement.