March 30, 2022
Despite its history of being known as an all-boys club, the NFL is breaking barriers when it comes to women in coaching positions. In 2021, Jennifer King became the first black female full-time coach in NFL history with the Washington Football Team. While King is not the first female coach in the NFL, a title which belongs to Jen Welter, who served as the Arizona Cardinals conditioning coach back in 2016, she is more involved with what are considered skilled position players in their development.
In 2019, King was brought on as a coaching intern for the Washington Football Team. King’s big break came when Randy Jordan, the head running back coach, couldn’t coach the team’s Week 15 game against their division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, due to a COVID-19 outbreak. At the end of the season, based on her stellar performance, King was promoted to a full-time coach. This move comes as the NFL is pushing for women to be a more prominent part of the league. In this endeavor, the NFL is supporting female football leagues such as the Women’s Professional Football League, the Independent Women’s Football League, and the National Women’s Football Association, along with youth sports programs such as the YMCA’s co-ed flag football leagues.
Other notable female football coaches in the NFL include, Katie Sowers, who joined the National Football League as a wide receivers’ coaching intern with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016. In 2017, Sowers moved to the San Francisco 49ers as part of the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship. She became a seasonal intern before being converted to a full-time offensive assistant. In her first season, the 49ers won the NFC Championship, sending the team to Super Bowl LIV and allowing Sowers to become the first female and first openly gay coach in a Super Bowl.
Another historic moment came in 2021, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers assistant defensive line coach, Lori Locust, became the first female assistant coach in the NFL to win a Super Bowl.