Jen’s Story: Bruce Arians

“Some of the biggest moments in my career have come from guys who took a risk and bet on me. When there are no women in the room, it takes a man to open the door. In my case, it was Wendall Davis, who gave my first coaching opportunity, and Bruce Arians, who hired me to coach in the NFL.

As the first female coach in the NFL, so many people have focused on me and my journey as a woman coach, but personally it is important to me that my work honor Bruce.

Bruce, the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, took a chance on me. He didn’t have to do that. He took a risk that, if one thing went wrong, his entire legacy would have been destroyed. In order to better understand why he was willing to make that choice, I interviewed him for my upcoming book.

I was so excited to interview Bruce, that I discussed the interview and his decision to hire me with his wife, Chris. She said that she told him he was crazy.

‘Oh honey,’ she said to me, ‘I told him he was crazy.’

She went on: ‘But that’s what I love about My husband. He was 100% sure about you — he had not one doubt.’

I loved Chris for being so honest with me. It’s not like it was an easy decision, and certainly it was not one that had been made before. Bruce is known for his saying, ‘No risk it, no biscuit,’ and that statement definitely applied to his decision to hire me.

In the process of deciding to hire me, Bruce consulted with his players. He wanted my position to be something his players were also proud of — in a way, he was letting the guys on the team be heroes in championing me. I always had the support of these guys.

Bruce Arians is one of the coolest guys I know. He is so easy in his power and just so real. I knew within five minutes of talking to him on an NFL sideline, that I would walk through a wall for him.

His courage in hiring me, a woman, has now opened the door for many other coaches to follow. I take great pride in knowing that Bruce was the first.”

Dr. Jen Welter, Author, Speaker, First Female NFL Coach
Dallas, TX