Bucs head coach Bruce Arians is growing tired of answering questions about hiring the first full-time female coaches in franchise history.
In fact, he longs for a time when such moves no longer qualify as news.
The Bucs last week became the first NFL team with two female coaches on staff when they hired Lori Locust as assistant defensive line coach and Maral Javadifar as assistant strength and conditioning coach.
“That’s where it should be heading,“ Arians said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. "Two super-qualified people for what we need. The fact that their gender’s different, who gives a (expletive)? They’re good coaches.”
Four years ago, when he was head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, Arians hired Jen Welter to work with inside linebackers as an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason. She was the first female coach of any kind in the NFL.
“Our linebackers went straight to Jen, because she had a different way of teaching, and the players in Birmingham (where Locust was an assistant coach with the Iron of the Alliance of American Football), they absolutely loved (Locust) as a coach,” Arians said. “Every NFL player is going to look you and say, ‘How can you make me better?’ If you have an answer, you’re in. If you can’t answer the question, you don’t belong there, anyway."
Arians said some of the best teachers he ever had were women.
“Football (coaches), we’re glorified schoolteachers," he said. "You could know all of the football in the world, but if you can’t teach it ... so, why not take a great teacher of any gender and let them help your players?”
Arians called Dot Murphy, who coached at Hinds Junior College when Arians was at Mississippi State a quarter century ago “one of the best wide receiver coaches" he’d ever seen.
“Someone asked me, ‘Can women coach?’" he said. "Hell, yeah. I’ve even seen it. It’s just getting opportunities.”
But Arians made it clear that he isn’t willing to give them preferential treatment.
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“Now, if they can’t do it,” he said, “(they) get fired like anybody else.”
Arians looks forward to the day when a woman getting an NFL coaching job is not news.
How long might that take?
“Probably five years,” he answered. “I hope.”