Jen Welter says Cardinals’ Bruce Arians ‘welcomed me with open arms’
Jen Welter knew the Arizona Cardinals were the place for her when, while attending an off-season practice in June, she had a memorable conversation with Coach Bruce Arians.
He didn’t want to talk about the novelty of her wanting to be a coach. He wasn’t patronizing. He just wanted to talk football.
“The best way I could say it is he welcomed me with open arms from minute one,” said Welter, 37, who will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday as a summer coaching intern, working with Cardinals inside linebackers. It is believed she is the first female to hold a coaching position of any kind in the NFL.
“We were talking real football stuff, talking to me like I’d known him my whole life. And I thought, I know why this man is coach of the year.”
Welter spoke to The Times in a conference room Tuesday, an hour before she would sit at a dais before a large gathering of media.
Asked whether she feels like a pioneer, she said: “Absolutely. I’m blessed to be here. I can’t think of a place I’d rather be, or a coach I’d rather follow.”
“Somebody asked me, ‘How did this happen?’ ” Welter said. “I said, ‘It was the sheer will of a very strong man called Bruce Arians.’ No other way. This was all his bravery, and that’s why people follow him.”
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