Woman becomes NFL's first female full-time coach In this provided by the Buffalo Bills, Bills’ Head coach Rex Ryan poses with assistant football coach Kathryn Smith Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Smith, who has worked with Ryan for seven years, has become the first, full time, female assistant coach in the National Football League. (Anna Stolzenberg/Buffalo Bills via AP)
Woman becomes NFL's first female full-time coach
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Armed with notepads, pens and a keen eye for talent, Connie Carberg is still scouting football players.
 
She simply can't get enough of breaking down film. That's why the 64-year-old Carberg was in front of her television at home Jan. 23 in Coconut Creek, Florida, watching the East-West Shrine Game and the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
 
"I love it," Carberg said. "When draft time comes, I've got all my notes on every player."
 
Carberg was the first woman to serve as a scout for an NFL team. She worked with the New York Jets in the 1970s. She was excited this month when the Buffalo Bills hired Kathryn Smith as the league's first full-time female assistant coach.
 
"It caught me totally by surprise," Carberg told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "I started seeing things on the news and on Twitter. And then I was like, 'Wow!' I just got really excited. I think it's a great opportunity for women."
 
Bills coach Rex Ryan promoted Smith to special teams quality control coach. It is an entry-level, assistant position, but a path that prominent coaches such as Jon Gruden, Eric Mangini, Tony Sparano and Todd Haley took on their way to getting top jobs in the league.
 
The 30-year-old Smith worked for Ryan with the Jets since 2009. She was the team's player personnel assistant. She joined the coach in Buffalo after he was fired by New York after the 2014 season. She was an administrative assistant for Buffalo's assistant coaches, working on various projects.
 
"The fact she has been around for a long time is important," Carberg said. "She has proven herself. It's not just something like, 'Let's just put a woman in there and let's make history.'"
 
As special teams quality control coach, Smith will deal with things such as charting and diagramming plays, and scouting blocking schemes and tendencies of kickers and punters.
 
"To me, the best part of this is that Kathryn has a chance to just learn so much and ask questions and pick up so many things," Carberg said.
 
Carberg served as a scout for the Jets from 1976-80. She broke a gender barrier in the NFL while watching game films, traveling and scouting college players. She is credited with bringing attention to then-little known defensive end Mark Gastineau. He became one of the league's top pass rushers after being drafted by the Jets in 1979. Gastineau invited Carberg to be his guest when he was inducted into the team's Ring of Honor in 2012.
 
Carberg will be the subject of an upcoming book about her life in the NFL. She helped open the door for other women.
 
In 1986, the late Linda Bogdan, daughter of then-Bills owner Ralph Wilson, was hired by the team as a full-time scout.
 
Amy Trask was the Raiders' chief executive officer for owner Al Davis from 1997 until 2013. The Jets promoted longtime executive Jacqueline Davidson to director of football administration last summer. Miami's Dawn Aponte (executive vice president of football administration), Cincinnati's Katie Blackburn (executive vice president), San Diego's Jeanne Bonk (executive vice president and chief financial officer) and San Francisco's Hannah Gordon (vice president of legal and government affairs) are among a growing list of high-ranking women in football front offices.
 
Jen Welter became the NFL's first female position coach last summer. She worked as an intern for the Arizona Cardinals while coaching linebackers.
 
"I still believe it's going to take a little bit of time," Carberg said. "I think Jen Welter would make an ideal scout because she has played the game and loves the sport. As far as the scouting world, that's the one thing I can't believe in 40 years other than myself and Linda that there haven't really been other women scouts. I can definitely see even more opportunities opening up there. It's just not looked upon as weird anymore."
 
Carberg, whose father, Dr. Calvin Nicholas, was the Jets' internist, was hired by New York coach Charley Winner in 1974 as a team receptionist. She became the scouting secretary before being sent on the road to watch and interview players.
 
She was charged with making the Jets' 17th-round draft selection before leaving her role after the 1980 season to focus on her family.
 
Despite being in such a male-dominated environment, Carberg said she never felt awkward or intimidated.
 
"My biggest boosters in the world were men," she said. "Maybe because I felt so comfortable doing what I did. You might get some resistance, like anything else. But this younger generation right now is used to having their moms working, and working in very high positions. I think the respect is there. I think it's a lot of easier for women now than it might have been back in the old days."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is Kathryn Smith's new job a big deal?
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COMMENTS (193)
  • meganh-now
    2/01/2016 - 08:44 a.m.

    A connection I made to this article was that last year, we read about the first women going into space and these two articles remind me of each other because they both show how far women have come. A question I had was what other positions in the NFL do women hold currently? Are there any female owners or announcers? I thought that the main idea of this article was that women can move past gender roles and do what the enjoy.

  • annar-jon
    2/01/2016 - 08:50 a.m.

    I think that it's great that the football industry is now letting in and involving women, even if they cant play. Football is changing, and among the changes more women being included is one of the great changes.

  • gingerh1-now
    2/01/2016 - 08:50 a.m.

    Kathryn Smith's new job is a big deal because she is the first woman to be a NFL football assistant coach. Football is labeled as a men's sport so, men will coach. But, Kathryn Smith has become the first women to be an assistant coach on the Buffalo Bills team.

  • masonp1-jon
    2/01/2016 - 08:59 a.m.

    Kathryn's new job is a big deal because she is one of the first women to be an NFL foot ball teams scout. She is the first women to ever take that jobs title. Hopefully in the near future there will be more women working NFL jobs.

  • harkimh-jon
    2/01/2016 - 08:59 a.m.

    This article just says that woman can to what men can do.

  • lancet-jon
    2/01/2016 - 09:00 a.m.

    great article if your into making history or football

  • jazlync-jon
    2/01/2016 - 09:01 a.m.

    That was an amazing story and it was really interesting that a girl was the head coach.

    • nateh-jon
      2/01/2016 - 11:01 a.m.

      This is very exciting to see a female full time coach, equality bruh!

  • xanderg-jon
    2/01/2016 - 09:02 a.m.

    I think its really cool that Connie became a full time NFL coach. Its really cool because no one in ALL of history has done that as a girl. Its amazing how society is changing. I think in my lifetime, loads of history will be made.

  • alanao-jon
    2/01/2016 - 09:04 a.m.

    I think that it is amazing how gender stereotypes aren't involved in football as much as they were back in the past. Before women were thought to not participate in many sports, men being football players and wrestlers, now females can enjoy all kinds of sports without being looked down upon or judged for it.

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