Jen Welter, training camp coaching intern, introduced by Cardinals
TEMPE, Ariz. -- When the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff meets as a group at 8 p.m. Tuesday night to prepare for training camp, Jen Welter will be the first known woman to have a seat at the table.
But that doesn't change what's expected out of her.
During Welter's introductory news conference in the auditorium of the Cardinals' practice facility in Tempe, Arizona, coach Bruce Arians called Welter "a trailblazer" but said he didn't have a different set of expectations for her.
Welter, 37, is one of six interns to work with the Cardinals during training camp and the preseason.
"What I asked of them is to come in -- they're not here to watch, they're here to work, get better, coach, correct the things that are wrong, pat people on the back when they do it right and jump right in," Arians said.
Welter was the star of the 26-minute news conference, fielding nine of the 16 questions. She talked about still having in her purse her first professional check, worth $12 and given to her after she won the 2004 championship with the Dallas Diamonds of what was then the Women's Professional Football League.
She talked about her love of football, which began as a young girl in Vero Beach, Florida, and was fostered by her cousins, who let her don their football gear and would give in to a little Welter who begged to be hit. She'd pop up and ask them to do it again.
"I didn't start playing football to be here," Welter said. "I didn't even dream that it was possible. I think the beauty of this is that, though it's a dream I never could have had, now it's a dream other girls can grow up and have. So I guess if that makes me a trailblazer, then ..."
She was interrupted by Arians.
"She's a trailblazer," he said.
"I always wanted to be able to help someone get an opportunity and create as many opportunities as we possibly can," Arians said.
Arians, 62, discussed the process of hiring Welter. After mentioning his now-famous quote about the possibility of females coaching in the NFL once they can prove they can make players better, Welter's head coach with the Texas Revolution, Devin Wyman, called Arians. He told Arians about Welter, and Arians reached out to Welter. She attended an organized team activity and said Arians told her he would try to get her on staff.
A few weeks later, he offered Welter the job.
Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said he was proud that his franchise broke down the gender barrier in the NFL.
"My initial reaction was very positive," Bidwill said. "Any of our prospective coaches or new employees, I want to hear a little about them, so it was the same questions I'd ask for anybody. But my initial reaction was very positive, and I thought, 'Man, this is going to make some news,' which explains why I have 50 iPhones in front of my face right now."
Bidwill said he spoke with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who was elated, Bidwill said. The reactions from owners around the NFL have been "tremendous," Bidwill said.
"Tremendous feedback from across the board from everybody," he added. "It's been tremendous."