NFL history was made on Sunday with the game between Cleveland Browns and Washington Football Team the first to feature female coaches on opposing sidelines and a female official on the field.
Cleveland’s chief of staff Callie Brownson, Washington’s full-year coaching intern Jennifer King and NFL official Sarah Thomas were the trio who wrote themselves into the NFL history books as the Browns secured a 34-20 victory in Week Three.
It was a landmark moment for women in a male dominated sport and one not lost on Washington head coach Ron Rivera, who said on Sunday: “I am very proud of Jennifer King. She is somebody that I have worked with the last few years.
“I have given her an opportunity with internships to show me that she deserves the opportunity, and she has earned it. She is running with it. Again, this is all about making sure that people that deserve opportunities get them.”
In July of 2015, the Arizona Cardinals became the first NFL team to hire a female coach when they appointed Jen Welter to their staff. A couple of months later, Thomas became the first female to officiate in a regular season game.
However, there is a sense Sunday’s moment was not just a symbolic one. Rather, all three women on the field were there because they deserve to be there. Thomas, King and Brownson have earned their stripes.
All three crafted their trade through the collegiate game and now work at the highest level in the highest-profile sport in America.
On Sunday, all three came together on the same field to inspire a generation of women who can now see a path to follow in their footsteps.