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Arizona Cardinals hire Jen Welter, believed to be first woman to coach in NFL

In this Feb. 12, 2014, photo, Jen Welter

In this Feb. 12, 2014, photo, Jen Welter puts her helmet on before the start of the Texas Revolution practice at Bradford Crossing Park in Allen, Texas. Credit: AP / Vernon Bryant

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said at the NFL owners meetings in March that he could foresee a time when the league would hire female coaches. "The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they'll be hired,'' he said.

Arians was the first to make the move, hiring Jen Welter as an intern for training camp and the preseason. Welter, 37, a former college rugby player who played nearly 14 years in the Women's Football Alliance, will coach the Cardinals' inside linebackers.

"Coaching is nothing more than teaching,'' Arians said Monday. "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 . . . to open some doors for her.''

The NFL hired its first full-time female official this year. Sarah Thomas, a former high school and college football official, will be a line judge. Last year, the Spurs made Becky Hammon the NBA's first full-time female assistant coach.

Welter was recommended to Arians by the coach of the Texas Revolution of the men's Indoor Football League. She's an assistant for the Revolution. "I met her,'' Arians said, "and I thought she was the type of person that could handle this in a very positive way.''

Welter played running back and special teams for the Revolution in 2014, the first woman to hold a non-kicking position in a men's pro league.

Arians said he spoke with several of his players and that "they were all very cool with it. It's not going to be a distraction in any way.''


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