After 95 years, the NFL officially has its first full-time female coach.
Kathryn Smith will take over as the Buffalo Bills special teams quality control coach and assist the special teams coordinator for head coach Rex Ryan, the team announced Wednesday night.
“Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “She certainly deserves this promotion based on her knowledge and strong commitment, just to name a couple of her outstanding qualities, and I just know she’s going to do a great job serving in the role of Quality Control-Special Teams.”
Ryan said that he consulted with Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, who hired the league’s first female preseason coaching intern, Jen Welter, last summer, on his decision.
“You can see the success some of these young ladies are having in the coaching profession, such as the young lady that is an assistant to Coach (Gregg) Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs, and realize how exciting this is for women like Kathryn Smith as well as the Bills organization,” Ryan said in the Bills statement.
Starting next season, Smith will have worked for the NFL for 14 years. She joined the Bills in 2015 after 12 seasons with the New York Jets.
Several Bills players had issued their support for Smith on social media following the announcement, including offensive lineman Richie Incognito.
“Congrats Kathryn,” Incognito tweeted. “I know you will do a great job.”
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Others, like NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan, have also spoken out about the major move.
“As a former player, it’s great to see a female coach,” Michael Strahan said on Good Morning America, Thursday. “It’s about time.”