Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Sports

At last, good NFL news involving women

A woman made NFL news last week, and she didn't have to get flung onto a gun-filled sofa or knocked out in an elevator to do it.

In the NFL, progress moves in small steps.

Applause is in order for Rex Ryan and the Bills, who promoted Kathryn Smith, 30, to a full-time coaching position. Smith will assist with quality control of the special teams.

It's an entry level job. Smith likely will watch and break down video of practice and the Buffalo opponents.

Smith, though, will star in the footnote — the NFL's first full-time, female assistant coach. It was empowering enough news that that legend in pink, Barbie herself, took to Twitter (@Barbie) to congratulate Kathryn: "You are an #inspiration. #youcanbeanything," Ms. Barbie hash-tagged.

No big deal? You've got to be kidding.

This is a league whose historical idea of female participation was the hot-pantsed Cowboys Cheerleaders.

You only have to go back 12 months to commissioner Roger Goodell's Super Bowl press conference to find the NFL drawing its man-line into the sand. Goodell was asked by respected CNN journalist Rachel Nichols about the perceived conflict of interest that arose when the commissioner mishandled the Ray Rice case.

"I don't agree with you on a lot of the assumptions you make in your question," Goodell shot back. "I think we have done an excellent job of bringing outside consultants in. Somebody has to pay them, Rachel. Unless you're volunteering, which I don't think you are, we will do that."

Would Goodell have been as snippy to a male journalist? I don't think so.

But the NFL gets to share the credit on the Smith hiring. It was Ryan's hire, but the NFL had to have approved.

You're either qualified for the job or you're not. Smith, as Ryan affirmed, is as qualified as Becky Hammon and Nancy Lieberman are for their NBA assistant-coach jobs.

The NFL locker room? While it may well be the most sexist, homophobic lodge in sports, teams have come a long ways since making female journalists wait in the hallways. By all accounts, Barbie's included, Smith, who started working with the Jets eight years ago, is ready for her new job.

And the footnote that properly goes with it.

— Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TNS)

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