As the 28 non-playoff NFL teams make all kinds of coaching changes, the Buffalo Bills made a history making move on Wednesday when they hired Kathryn Smith as their special teams quality control coach.
With the hire, Smith becomes the league’s first female full-time coach (the Arizona Cardinals brought in Jen Welter as their inside linebackers coach last summer, but that was only for the duration of training camp).
Smith was an administrative assistant to Bills’ head coach Rex Ryan in 2015. For the previous 12 seasons, she was with the New York Jets (where Ryan coaches for six years).
“Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff,” Ryan said in a statement. “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.”
“Kathryn has been working in a football administrative role and assisted the assistant coaches for years. She has proven that she’s ready for the next step, so I’m excited and proud for her with this opportunity. She will work with [special teams coordinator] Danny Crossman and [special teams assistant] Eric Smith involving a number of responsibilities.”
Ryan also validated his hire by referencing the success that San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon has had in the NBA.
Smith joined the Jets in 2003 as a game-day/special events intern before being named a college scouting intern in 2005 and a player personnel assistant in 2007. She became the assistant to Ryan in 2014. (ESPN)
The 2015 season isn’t over yet, but what a way to head into the 2016 season.
Smith and Welter are opening doors for other woman in pro football, and with more and more female voices, the league is better off.