The Buffalo Bills made history on Wednesday, hiring Kathryn Smith as their new quality control-special teams coach.
Smith, a former Jets staffer, will be the first female full-time coach in NFL history.
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During the 2015 season, she was the administrative assistant to Bills head coach Rex Ryan, whom she also worked for during his tenure as Jets head coach.
Before joining the Bills, Smith spent 12 seasons working for the Jets, beginning her career as a Jets gameday/special events intern in 2003. She was a college scouting intern in 2005 before being promoted to player personnel assistant in 2007 and eventually assistant to the head coach in 2014.
“Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff,” Ryan said in a statement issued by the Bills. “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.
“Kathryn has been working in a football administrative role and assisted the assistant coaches for years. She has proven that she’s ready for the next step, so I’m excited and proud for her with this opportunity. She will work with [special teams coordinator] Danny Crossman and [assistant special teams coach] Eric Smith involving a number of responsibilities.”
The Arizona Cardinals made headlines in July when they hired Jen Welter to serve as a training camp assistant coach, making her the first female to hold an NFL coaching position of any kind.
“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. “You can see the success some of these young ladies are having in the coaching profession, such as the young lady that is an assistant to Coach [Greg] Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs, and realize how exciting this is for women like Kathryn Smith as well as the Bills organization.”