The Women’s Sports Foundationnamed Bruce Arians, head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 2020 Champion of Equality for his dedication to fostering inclusion in the National Football League. WSF Founder Billie Jean King presented the award to Arians during an October ceremony.
Arians has been in the league for decades. When the Bucaneers hired him, he became the oldest head coaching hire in NFL history, but age hasn’t stopped his progressive way of thinking. He recently hired two female coaches to join the Buccaneers – Lori Locust (assistant defensive line) and Maral Javadifar (assistant strength and conditioning). This became a national news story, which didn’t sit well with Arians, who couldn’t believe this was such a novel idea in a league celebrating its 100th anniversary season.
It’s not easy to crack the NFL and its boys club. It could be the violent nature of the game that keeps the NFL from putting women in front offices, but after 100 years, balance should be the norm.
“When I think back to the best teachers I ever had, most of them are female, alright. In football, we’re glorified school teachers (as coaches),” Arians said in an interview with CBS Sports. “You can know all the football in the world, but if you can’t teach it? So why not take a great teacher of any gender and let them help your players. So, yeah, I don’t see it as an issue, and I’m looking forward to the day when it’s not news.”
When he was the coach of the Arizona Cardinals, he fought for Jennifer Welter to make her way to the coaching ranks, noticing her unique method of teaching. He hired her as an assistant coaching intern in the summer of 2015, making her the first female coach in league history.
Arians forward-way of thinking took way while he was at Mississippi State. He greatly admired Dot Murphy, who coached wide receivers at Hinds Community College.
“She was one of the best receiver coaches I’d ever seen,” Arians told NFL.com. “This was 25 years ago. So my answer [when asked], ‘Can they coach?’ Hell, yeah. I’ve seen it. It’s just getting opportunities.”
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