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NFL's first female coach out of the league for now

Welter finished a five-week internship with the Cardinals, but is hopeful that her NFL coaching career isn't over

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Jen Welter's preseason internship with the Arizona Cardinals is over and, for now, she doesn't have a job in the NFL. She's still hopeful that her opportunity with the Cardinals will open other doors in the league, though.

The internship for Welter ran through the first three weeks of preseason and her official title was "assistant coaching intern" for the Cardinals, where she worked with outside linebackers. Now that her five-week internship with the team is over, she's currently out of the league, as are the six other training camp coaching interns hired by the Cardinals.

She's hopeful that won't last too long, though. Players on the team have spoken highly of the insight that Welter brought as a coach and, according to Fortune magazine, they expected her to be back with the team.

A league source tells Fortune that many of the players, in fact, "fully expected her to be there when the season starts." Linebacker Kevin Minter told the Associated Press, "She's helped a lot and she's a stickler about fundamentals ... She knows a lot about making you better as a person, too ... a real good person to feed off of." Linebackers Kenny Demens and Ty Mathieu both tweeted photos of themselves with Welter along with supportive captions.

At the conclusion of the internship, Welter told Fortune that the Cardinals said there wasn't a spot for her, although she would "happily talk with any other interested teams."

Welter, 37, came to the Cardinals after 14 years of playing professional football, including becoming the first woman to play a non-kicking position in a men's league. She briefly played running back for the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League in 2014 and later coached for the Revolution in the same year.

During her playing career, Welter earned a master's degree in sport psychology and a PhD in psychology. After adding Welter to his staff, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said that "coaching is nothing more than teaching" and that he'll hire a coach full-time "the minute they can prove they can make a player better."

The NFL also added its first full-time female referee earlier in the offseason, hiring Sarah Thomas to be a line judge. Before a preseason game between the Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs, Thomas and Welter shared a moment on the sideline between two women working to break down barriers.