You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby. But Not Long Enough.

Groucho Marx once famously said that “Women should be obscene and not heard.” Fortunately, women have never taken his advice. At least not the second part.

The recent news that Jen Welter will join the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff for the summer follows the announcement last July that Sarah Thomas will become the NFL’s first female game official this year. Welter will help coach the team’s inside linebackers during training camp and the preseason only and her role isn’t a long-term job, as she’ll be a coaching intern during the summer.  But it’s still an NFL first and has the potential to lead to further opportunities.

Add this to the news that Beth Mowins will be the Raiders preseason game announcer and that Jacqueline Davidson will be the new director of football administration for the Jets and we have a storm of empowerment for women brewing.  I’d say the NFL is making real progress.

I’ve always said that most NFL owners don’t care who you are, what your race is or what your creed is as long as you can play football.  Gay? Who cares? As long as they can help you win.  That stance should, and generally does, apply to employees off the field as well.

Unfortunately the NFL’s attitude towards women has been slow to develop but gradually the reality of the situation is dawning and slowly taking over their thinking. They aren’t asking women to be linebackers or even kickers and, media agenda aside, that’s not likely to happen any time soon. But coaches? Television announcers? Game officials?  Scouting and front office?  These are positions which women not only can fill but which we should demand that they fill. Loudly.

As an NFL fan, I want to see the best available product on the field. I’ve no doubt that every owner and player in the league feels the same way. But that will never happen when 50% of the population is excluded from jobs to which they are perfectly suited. Here’s hoping that the “2015 NFL Year of the Woman” becomes an annual affair.

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