This year, the National Football League playoff games will look a lot more diverse with six of the league's eight female coaches on the sidelines, leading to the first time in NFL history that opposing playoff teams will have women coaches.
"I really think it's a direct testament to forward-thinking coaches opening up their minds to the entire pool of applicants for jobs, and I think these forward-thinking coaches have created cultures with sustained winning and ultimately they've made the playoffs now," Washington Football team's full-year coaching intern Jennifer King told NFL Total Access.
On Saturday, King and the Washington Football team will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team that has Lori Locust as their assistant defensive line coach and Maral Javadifar as their assistant strength and conditioning coach. Currently, the Buccaneers are the only franchise in the NFL with two female coaches.
If any of the six women lead their team beyond the playoffs, they will be following in the footsteps of San Francisco 49ers offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers, who made history last year when she became the first woman and openly gay coach to help lead a team to the Super Bowl.
Take a look below to see the six women coaches who will be making a difference in this year's NFL playoffs.
Jennifer King, full-year coaching intern for the Washington Football team
In 2020, Jennifer King made history when she became the Washington Football team's first Black full-time female coach. In her role, King works mostly with the team's offensive staff and assists running back coach Randy Jordan. Prior to joining Washington, she served as an offensive assistant coach for Dartmouth College and an intern running back coach for the Carolina Panthers.
Lori Locust, assistant defensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In 2019, Locust made history alongside Maral Javadifar and became one of the first full-time female coaches in Buccaneers history. As the team's assistant defensive line coach, she works closely with the team's defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers.
Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Locust served as an assistant defensive line coach for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football, and she worked as a defensive line coaching intern for the Baltimore Ravens during the team's training camp in 2018.
Maral Javadifar, assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Javadifar, who is a licensed physical therapist, serves as the Buccaneers assistant strength and conditioning coach. A former college athlete, Javadifar played basketball at Pace University before graduating and earning her doctor of physical therapy degree from New York Medical College.
When Javadifar and Locust were first hired by the Buccaneers in 2019, head coach Bruce Arians spoke highly of the two women and their ability to coach at the NFL level.
"I know how hard it can be to get that first opportunity to coach at the highest level of professional football," he said, while adding that "sometimes, all you need is the right organization to offer up the opportunity."
Cristi Bartlett, strength and conditioning coach for the Tennessee Titans
In 2020, Bartlett joined the Tennessee Titans as a strength and conditioning coach. Prior to joining the team, Bartlett worked as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for several colleges including the University of Pennsylvania, James Madison University and Morehead State University.
Callie Brownson, chief of staff for Cleveland Browns
In 2020, Brownson joined the Cleveland Browns as chief of staff to head coach Kevin Stefanski, marking the first time in NFL history that a woman has held that position. In addition to serving as chief of staff, the George Mason University alum has also worked as interim tight end coach for the team, filling in for coach Drew Petzing when his wife gave birth to their first child in November.
Prior to working for the Browns, Brownson made history as Division I college football's first full-time female coach when she joined Dartmouth College's coaching staff in 2018.
Chelsea Romero, strength and conditioning coach for the Los Angeles Rams
Romero joined the Rams in 2020, making history as the team's first female strength and conditioning coach.
Prior to working for the Rams, she served as assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of California Irvine and as softball strength and conditioning coach at Antelope Valley College in California.
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