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Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians happy with progress of women in coaching


NFL head coaches getting tired of answering questions is nothing new. However, the questions that newly-hired Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians is sick of answering are.

The Bucs became the first NFL team with two female coaches on staff with the hirings of Lori Locust as assistant defensive line coach and Maral Javadifar as assistant strength and conditioning coach. Arians seems to long for a day when he won’t have to answer questions about the gender of his staff. “That’s where it should be heading,“ Arians said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix. “Two super-qualified people for what we need. The fact that their gender’s different, who gives a (expletive)? They’re good coaches.”

Four years ago, when he was head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, Arians hired the first female coach of any kind in the NFL, Jen Welter, to work with inside linebackers as an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason. “Every NFL player is going to look you and say, ‘How can you make me better?’” said Arians. “If you have an answer, you’re in. If you can’t answer the question, you don’t belong there, anyway.”

The head coach said, “Football (coaches), we’re glorified schoolteachers. You could know all of the football in the world, but if you can’t teach it … so, why not take a great teacher of any gender and let them help your players?” Then adding that some of the best teachers he ever had were women, and that he can’t wait for the day when a woman getting a job as a coach is no longer news.

How long could that take? “Probably five years,” Arians answered. “I hope.”

Last season under Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay went 5-11 and bounced back and forth between quarterback Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now that Fitzpatrick is a bit further south in Miami with the Dolphins, Arians will have to get the most out of Winston, in his upcoming fifth season.