Even through regime shifts the Buffalo Bills have been at the forefront of embracing diversity. Three years ago, then head coach Rex Ryan made his longtime assistant Kathryn Smith the first female to coach in the regular season. Last year Sean McDermott hired English football player and coach Phoebe Schecter to a three week training camp internship, while Kathleen Wood secured a scouting internship.
The Bills decided that Schecter, back this training camp working mostly with the tight ends, was ready for the next step and have extended her internship to the entire season, as reported by NFLUK journalist Neil Reynolds.
Great news coming out of Buffalo that Britain’s own @PhoebeS_PT will be working as a full-time coach with the Bills this coming season. A tremendous achievement for Phoebe and very well deserved. Congratulations!! 👏🇬🇧🏈
— Neil Reynolds (@neilreynoldsnfl) August 30, 2018
Schecter joins 49ers offensive assistant Katie Sowers and Raiders assistant strength and conditioning coach Kelsey Martinez as the only female coaches current in the NFL. Of course that number is three more than it ever was prior to a few years ago.
Schecter’s season-long coaching appointment is a direct result of the NFL’s aggressive efforts to create a pipeline for women into coaching, scouting and other operational jobs. The league hired Sam Rapoport in 2016 as its Senior Director of Football Development to not only develop and train potentially qualified women but cultivate opportunities. Rapoport instituted a signature event, the Women’s Career Forum, held annually during Pro Bowl week in Orlando to coalesce qualified women and would be employees. After applying a select number of women are provided the unique opportunity to interface and learn from top NFL and college coaches and scouts. Schecter is a two-time participate in the forum, an experience that has clearly paid dividends.
While the Women’s Forum was strategically enacted to catapult females, Rapoport, in speaking with the Buffalo News last month, lauded the Bills for being gender blind.
“I really feel as though, and in speaking with several executives at the Bills, it’s not about hiring women,” Rapoport said. “They firmly believe in hiring the best person for the job. If you believe in that concept, you believe that you have to consider the entire population. I don’t think we or anyone wants clubs to hire women, the thought is can we consider the entire pool of candidates?”