The move happened on Tuesday, with no fanfare. The Bills reported to the league office, which then informed the other 31 teams of it on Wednesday, an addition to the coaching staff: Kathryn Smith, Quality Control-Special Teams.
No announcement was issued by the Bills on Tuesday. It wasn’t until after PFT broke the news of the move, from a source unattached to the Bills, that the team made the official declaration.
“Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff,” coach Rex Ryan said in a press release issued Wednesday night by the Bills. “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.”
It’s a low-level job, but it’s a full-time position with an opportunity to advance.
“Kathryn has been working in a football administrative role and assisted the assistant coaches for years,” Ryan added. “She has proven that she’s ready for the next step, so I’m excited and proud for her with this opportunity. She will work with Danny Crossman and Eric Smith involving a number of responsibilities.”
Ryan explained, before making the move, he talked to the coach who was the first man to make a female a member of his staff.
“I consulted with [Cardinals coach] 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,” Ryan said, in reference to Jen Welter. “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 more women become assistant coaches, more will believe that they can coach, at every level. And more male coaches will give them the opportunity to do it. With more female football coaches entering the profession in high school and college football, inevitably some will demonstrate the skill, work ethic, and other qualities needed to thrive at the highest stage of the sport.
The fact that the Bills treated the move like any other assistant-coaching hire also is encouraging. They weren’t looking for publicity or slaps on the back. They simply wanted to entrust the job to someone they believed could do it, regardless of gender.