The NFL welcomed new changes Saturday night, when Jen Welter became the first woman to coach an NFL preseason game and Sarah Thomas became the first woman to work as a full-time on-field official.
Not only had Thomas already worked NFL preseason games and training camp, but she was also the first woman to officiate in major college football and work a bowl game.
At yesterday’s game, however, Thomas was a full-time official, a title that called for plenty of attention in the male-dominated NFL.
On the other hand, Welter earned her title after interning for six weeks as an inside linebackers coach for the Cardinals. The praise she earned from the Cardinals and coach Bruce Arians gave her the opportunity to stay on through Arizona’s four preseason games.
Welter played rugby at Boston College, spent 14 years as a linebacker, most with the Dallas Diamonds of the Women’s Football Alliance, and won two gold medals with the U.S. team at the International Federation of American Football women’s world championships.
Last year, Welter became the first woman to play a non-kicking position on a men’s professional football team when she played running back and on special teams for the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League.
And top it all off, Welter also became the first woman to coach for a men’s professional team when the Revolution made her linebackers and special-teams coach in February.