Bills make NFL history, hire first-ever full-time female assistant coach

When Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians announced over the summer that Jen Welter would be serving as a coaching intern during the team's training camp, he said he would like to see every team follow the Cardinals' path.

"Hopefully, 31 other clubs will start this," Arians said of hiring a female coach.

Apparently, the Bills were listening.

The team announced on Wednesday that they've hired Kathryn Smith to serve as special teams quality control coach. The hiring makes Smith the first full-time female assistant coach in NFL history.

Although Welter was the first female assistant, her stint with the team, which wasn't designed as a full-time job, ended after Arizona's training camp.

"I consulted with Bruce Arians on this since he was really the first NFL head coach to make this kind of move when he hired a female linebackers coach through the summer," Rex Ryan said in a statement. "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."

As for Smith, she has been working in the NFL for almost 15 years. Smith started as an intern with the Jets in 2003 and spent four years doing various jobs for the team before being promoted to player personnel assistant in 2007. Smith held that job until 2014, when then-coach Rex Ryan promoted her to "assistant to the head coach."

After Ryan was hired by the Bills, Smith followed him to Buffalo, where she was hired in 2015 to continue as assistant to the head coach.

"Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff [In New York]," Ryan said. "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."

The new promotion means that Smith will work under special teams coordinator Danny Crossman and special teams assistant Eric Smith.

Kathryn Smith is making NFL history. (Bills 2015 Media Guide)
Kathryn Smith is making NFL history. (Bills 2015 Media Guide)
CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

Show Comments Hide Comments
CBS Sports Store
NFL Nike Gear
Our Latest Stories