Bruce Arians says Jen Welter is a trailblazer. Let’s see if the Arizona Cardinals truly allow her to be one.
I have no doubt that Arians, the Cardinals head coach, wants Welter to succeed as a training-camp coaching intern. The question is whether coaches, players and the macho culture of the NFL will let her.
Welter is believed to be the first female to work with an NFL coaching staff. It’s breakthrough stuff. But let’s face it, the league doesn’t have a very good track record when it comes to women. How it initially dealt with Ray Rice’s one-punch knockout of his then-fiancee – a measly two-game suspension! – doesn’t exactly roll out a welcome mat to Welter, a former professional football player. Neither do all the domestic-assault cases that spill from the NFL every year.
So, in a league awash in testosterone, will players listen to what Welter has to say? Will her 14 years as a pro be enough to sway coaches that she’s worthy of their tutelage? How will the presence of a female inside-linebackers coach affect the team’s culture, even if it’s just during training camp?
I keep coming back to former Bears receiver Brandon Marshall’s put-down of teammate Robbie Gould, a kicker, during a screaming match after a loss last season.
“You just kick the ball!’’ Marshall said.
If a kicker can’t get any respect, can a female coach?
I suppose no matter what happens, good or bad, Welter indeed will be a trailblazer. If Cardinals players allow her to learn and be hands-on, it would mean so much more.
But in a league with so many issues involving players mistreating women, I have my doubts.