Bruce Arians wasn’t just mouthing politically expedient promises last month when he spoke at the Women’s Careers in Football Forum during the NFL scouting combine. He really meant it when he said he was going to hire a woman to a full-time coaching position on his Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff.
In fact, he has hired two.
Lori Locust will be an assistant defensive line coach, and Maral Javadifar is now an assistant strength and conditioning coach. With the hires, the first in the team’s history, the Buccaneers are the only NFL team with two women in coaching positions.
Locust, who played for four years in women’s semipro football, has been coaching the defensive line for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football and formerly was a defensive coaching intern for the Baltimore Ravens during training camp last summer. Javadifar, who was working as a physical therapist in Seattle, played college basketball at Pace University.
Arians has been on the forefront of empowering female coaches before. He hired Jen Welter, the first female assistant in the NFL, as an assistant coaching intern when he was with the Arizona Cardinals. She now is a defensive specialist for the Atlanta Legends of the AAF.
“I know how hard it can be to get that first opportunity to coach at the highest level of professional football,” Arians said in a statement released by the team. “Sometimes, all you need is the right organization to offer up the opportunity.”
Since then, several women have been hired, whether as assistant coaches or interns. Rex Ryan was the first to give a woman a full-time job as an assistant, hiring Kathryn Smith as special teams quality control coach in 2016 when he was the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. In January, it caused hardly a ripple when Sarah Thomas became the first female on-field official to work an NFL playoff game, officiating the Los Angeles Chargers-New England Patriots game.
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