Arians — ‘Hell yeah’ women can coach in the NFL

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix on Tuesday that he looks forward the day when his hiring of female football coaches won’t be news anymore.

Last week, the Bucs became the first team in NFL history to hire two full-time female assistant coaches, Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar.

“It’s time, and I’ll be happy when it’s not news anymore. … That’s where it should be heading,” said Arians, who was also responsible for hiring the NFL’s first female training camp intern with the Arizona Cardinals, Dr. Jen Welter, in 2015.

“They’re what we need. The fact that their gender’s different, who gives a shit?” said Arians, noting how players gravitated towards Welter because of her unique method of teaching.

“I always go back to Dot Murphy, at Hines [Community College] when I was at Mississippi State (Murphy is now the assistant athletic director at the school). She was one of the best receiver coaches I’d ever seen. This was 25 years ago. So my answer [when asked], ‘Can they coach?’ Hell yeah. I’ve seen it. It’s just getting opportunities.”

“Every NFL player is going to look at you and say, how can you make me better? If you have an answer, you’re in. If you can’t answer, then you don’t belong there anyway. They can answer the question,” Arians said.

“My best teachers I’ve ever had – most of them were female. Football, we’re glorified school-teachers. You can know all the football in the world but you can’t teach it. So why not take a great teacher of any gender and let em help your players? I don’t see it as an issue and I’m looking forward to the day when it’s not news.”

General manager Jason Licht told ESPN that Arians approached him about bringing on female staff members, and later ownership.

Licht responded, “Absolutely.”

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, a huge supporter of women coaching in the NFL, says he’ll be happy when their hiring is no longer a news story. Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

“He said, ‘I really want to hire some female coaches. It’s something I’ve really been wanting to do. It’s all about opportunity and there are some great females out there that can coach,” said Licht, pointing out that the Bucs also have a female – Darcie Glazer-Kassewitz – as one of its co-owners.

Locust, previously with the Alliance of American Football League Birmingham Iron, will serve as assistant defensive line coach, while Javadifar, most recently a physical therapist at Avant Physical Therapy in Seattle, will serve as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Arians has known Locust since his days serving as the head coach at Temple and she has worked with wide receivers coach Kevin Ross to put on football camps in Camden, New Jersey, while the team did a search to find Maral.

“Bruce is such a rare guy that he’s old school in some ways but very progressive in others,” Licht said. “With him, it’s not about proving a point or push the boundary or whatever – it’s about giving opportunities to people that deserve them.”

In addition to discussing the hirings, Arians confirmed that the team is working to sign Blaine Gabbert as their backup quarterback. He was also non-committal when asked about the status of six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, despite a Tampa Bay Times report suggesting McCoy would return in 2019.

“Um…probably a better question for Jason because the financials are part of it,” Arians said, referring to McCoy’s $13 million salary cap hit and non-guaranteed money. “I’ve gotta evaluate him. Guys up there in age, it’s different. It’s usually the age when they’re getting paid the most, and production and [pay] don’t match. So we’ve gotta find that out.”

He added, “He’s not as disruptive as he was four years ago but he’s still a good player.”

ESPN’s Mike Reiss contributed to this report.

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