On May 25th the New York Jets announced that they plan to hire Collette Smith of the Independent Women’s Football League as a preseason intern who will work with the team’s defensive backs this coming season, according to multiple reports.
Collette Smith will become the third female coach in NFL history, according to the New York Daily News.
“I’m over the top. I’m humbled and I’m proud,” Smith told the New York Daily News. “This could have happened with any NFL team. But it just so happened that it was with my beloved New York Jets. This is bigger because of that. God forbid it would have been with the Patriots. But I still would have done it.”
Smith was able to meet and get to know Todd Bowles after having practice field access in 2016, according to the Daily News. Bowles has had nine stints as a defensive backs coach at both the college and pro level himself, which was likely a way for the two to become friends.
“He called over all the defensive backs,” Smith said. “He told them who I was and that I’d be hanging around from time to time. Everybody was polite and respectful.”
Smith is currently a marketing executive for the New York Sharks of the Independent Women’s Football League. She played for the Sharks for three years until a knee injury took her off the field.
She follows in the footsteps of Jen Welter and Kathryn Smith. Welter joined the Cardinals as a training camp coaching intern in July of 2015. Smith was hired by the Bills in January of 2016, where she was the special teams quality control coach and the first female full-time coach.
While Smith recognizes the enormity of her accomplishment and what it means for women in sports, she is also looking forward to the day when a woman being hired by a professional sports team is a non-story.
“One day a woman will come to a football team, and it won’t be a big story. It’ll just be football,” Smith said. “When that day comes, I’ll be more honored and even more proud.”
The move is not official yet, as the Jets have yet to announce the hiring.