Women coaches for NFL’s Washington and Cleveland teams could change course of football history

While you were busy shopping or losing your fantasy football championship, you may not have heard about one of the most significant moments in recent NFL history.

Because their staffs were depleted by COVID, both the Washington and Cleveland franchises turned to female assistants to serve as running back coaches. Cleveland to Callie Brownson and Washington to Jennifer King.

It’s the first time two women coached positional groups in league history, according to Troy Vincent, the NFL’s head of football operations. The Washington Football Team said King was the first Black female position coach.

And notice that as they coached, the Earth wasn’t flung deep into the solar system. Thanos didn’t appear with infinity stones in hand. The games went on. The league went on.

It’s possible that some years from now we may look back on this moment as a transformational one. The ugly circumstances of a pandemic created a beautiful opportunity not just for Brownson and King but other women in the future. A future woman head coach may point to this moment as an inspirational one.

The moment wasn’t just historically significant. It was also a data point. People like me, and others, have maintained for some time that gender is truly irrelevant when it comes to coaching football.

Callie Brownson coached running backs in the Cleveland Browns’ game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

That may sound radical to some people but it’s not. NFL coaching, like all coaching, is about knowledge and the ability to teach. While there are undoubtedly players who wouldn’t want a female coach, I can tell you, with certainty, most wouldn’t care.

If you think playing in the NFL is some sort of prerequisite to coaching in the league, well, some of the NFL’s best ever coaches never played in the NFL. The greatest to ever do it, Bill Belichick, didn’t. He played football at Wesleyan University. Bill Walsh, one of the great innovators, never played in the NFL.

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