NEW YORK: The Buffalo Bills appointed Kathryn Smith to their special teams staff on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), becoming the first NFL side to hire a woman to a full-time coaching job.
Smith’s appointment as quality control-special teams coach comes after the Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter as an assistant coach during a training camp last year.
Smith’s role however is a full-time position — believed to be a first for the National Football League.
“Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff,” Buffalo Bills coach Rex 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.”
Ryan said he had sounded out Cardinals coach Bruce Arians following his groundbreaking appointment of Welter last year.
“He was really the first NFL head coach to make this kind of move when he hired a female linebackers coach through the summer,” Ryan said, adding that he had also taken note of the San Antonio Spurs appointment of Becky Hammon to a coaching role last year.
“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 [Greg] Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs, and realize how exciting this is for women like Kathryn Smith as well as the Bills organization.”
Smith worked as an administrative assistant to Ryan this season and was also part of his support staff during his final year at the New York Jets.