The Arizona Cardinals have made NFL history as they've hired Jen Welter as a linebackers coaching intern for this training camp and preseason. Welter has 14 years of experience playing for the Women's Football Alliance and acted as a linebackers coach for the Texas Revolution in the Indoor Football League this past season; she also suited up for the Revolution as a running back for their 2014 preseason and made their active roster.
Welter is a Boston College graduate who played rugby and specializes in tackling techniques. She has a master's degree in sports psychology and a Ph.D in psychology.
"Coaching is nothing more than teaching," head coach Bruce Arians said Monday via the Cardinals' 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."
Welter is operating under a similar role as many of the former players that Bill Belichick brings into camp, like Joe Andruzzi and Sammy Morris, with the internship as the first step to a full time position. The Cardinals just promoted their offseason intern to a two-year coaching fellowship, so Welter has a potential future if she works out well.
NFL Network's Andrea Kremer deserves some credit for jump -starting the conversation earlier in the offseason.
In March i asked several NFL head coaches when we'd see a female in their ranks. @BruceArians was optimistic. Kudos for making it a reality— Andrea Kremer (@Andrea_Kremer) July 28, 2015
After Arians' talk with Kremer, the Revolution reached out to the Cardinals to see if they were interested in Welter.
While this seems like a tiny step, this is a major move towards expanding football coaching outside of the "White Male" demographic. In 1999, 67% of players were minorities and 28% of assistant coaches were minorities. In 2014, those numbers were nearly the exact same.
Best of luck to Welter in her new role; it's a big mountain to climb.
On the Patriots side, there have been a couple new hires for the 2015 season and they come from a familiar source.
Nick Caley has joined the team as a coaching assistant and brings with him nine years as a defensive assistant, including some time leading the secondary. Caley is a graduate of John Carroll University.
Frank Ross joins the team's scouting department for the second time in his career. He was a scouting assistant for 2011 and 2012, before going back to John Carroll University to serve as the team's quarterbacks coach, running backs coach, and special teams coordinator. Ross holds multiple records at John Carroll University for his work as a wide receiver.
The addition of two more John Carroll University graduates brings the total count to six:
Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio
Assistant Director of Pro Scouting Dave Ziegler
Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels
Coaching Assistant Jerry Schuplinski
Coaching Assistant Nick Caley
Scout Frank Ross
That certainly gives Rutgers a run for their money. I'm fairly certain that Caserio and McDaniels are trying to create a monopoly on JCU graduates interested in working for the NFL. Fellow JCU graduates in high NFL places include Chargers GM Tom Telesco, Jaguars GM David Caldwell, former Colts GM Chris Polian, and Bills OC Greg Roman.
Bill needs to pull out his inner-Nick Saban and do a better job of staking out his recruiting territories.