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Women’s growing role in the NFL is on display at the Hall of Fame

Jen Welter, who played club rugby at Boston College, became the first woman to coach in an NFL game in 2015. Now her memorabilia is part of a Hall of Fame display highlighting the impact of women on the NFL.Rob Maaddi/Associated Press

A 15-year-old boy made his way through the the Pro Football Hall of Fame museum on Friday, checking out the memorabilia and bronze busts before stopping to take a picture of Jen Welter’s blue-and-pink jersey to send to his younger sister.

“She will love this,” said Zach Fleming, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan in town with his dad for the first time. “I want her to know girls can make the Hall of Fame, too.”

Welter, who played club rugby at Boston College and began her football-playing career with the Massachusetts Mutiny, became the first woman to coach in an NFL game in 2015 when she joined the Arizona Cardinals as an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason.


The shirt, pants, and sneakers she wore on the sideline in all four exhibition games are on display at a new exhibit in the Pro Football Today area of the museum.

Welter’s game-worn Texas Revolution jersey, her Dallas Diamonds helmet and a commemorative helmet signed by Team Australia during her time as head coach of the national team is also displayed in a separate glass enclosure.

The “Women’s Impact on Football” exhibit debuted ahead of this week’s enshrinement festivities. It features artifacts from women who have played, coached, officiated, and broadcast the game at its highest level.

“There’s a lot of women involved in pro football and we wanted to recognize their contributions and tell their stories,” said Ben Ankrum, assistant curator at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “We’ve had other exhibits featuring women in pro football and it got to the point where we could do something larger and more permanent.”

Other items on display include:

  • Callie Brownson’s game-worn jacket and a signed ball from the game in which she became the first woman to serve as a position coach for an NFL regular-season game with the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 29, 2020. Brownson filled in as the tight ends coach when Drew Petzing didn’t travel with the team after his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child.
  • Katie Sowers’ 49ers polo from the 2017 season, when she became only the second woman to serve as a full-time NFL coach. San Francisco hired Sowers as an assistant for the 217 season. Kathryn Smith was the first female full-time coach with the Buffalo Bills in 2016.
  • The shoes Buccaneers assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust wore when she and assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar became the first female coaches to win a Super Bowl after Tampa Bay’s victory over Kansas City on Feb. 7, 2021.
  • Maia Chaka’s referee uniform and penalty flags. Chaka became the first Black woman to officiate an NFL game in 2021.
  • Six-time national champion quarterback Allison Cahill’s signed jersey from the Uxbridge native’s MVP performance in the Boston Renegades’ victory in the 2021 Women’s Alliance of Professional Football National Championship Game.
  • Hannah Storm’s and Andrea Kremer’s headsets from 2018, when they became the first all-female broadcast team to call an NFL regular-season game.

Godwin back on the field

Seven months after undergoing knee surgery, Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin is back in pads on the practice field.

Godwin, who signed a three-year, $60 million contract in March, worked out in full uniform at training camp Friday — running and catching passes during individual drills, but not participating in team periods.


His return came on a day when quarterback Tom Brady missed practice because of what coach Todd Bowles described as an “excused absence.”

The quarterback had a scheduled day off Wednesday, which was Brady’s 45th birthday. The entire team was off Thursday.

“We’ll let him do what he needs to do,” Bowles said. “If he’s back tomorrow, that’s great. But we’ll keep in touch, and we’ll monitor that.”

Cardinals coach on leave

Arizona Cardinals running backs coach James Saxon has been charged in Indianapolis with two counts of domestic battery stemming from an alleged incident in May.

One of the counts is a felony that includes domestic battery committed in the presence of a child less than 16 years old.

Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said Saxon has been placed on administrative leave. Kingsbury added that the team knew about Saxon’s arrest when it happened in May.

Saxon is a long-time running backs coach who has been with the Cardinals since 2019. He was the running backs coach for the Miami Dolphins from 2000 to 2019. He played eight years in the NFL from 1988 to 1995.

Thomas died from seizure

Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas died from “complications of a seizure disorder,” according to an autopsy report acquired by ESPN. Thomas was found dead in his Roswell, Georgia, home in December at age 33, just months after he announced his retirement from a 10-season career that included stops with the Texans and Jets . . . The NFL Players Association has filed a brief replying to the league’s appeal in Deshaun Watson’s discipline case. Former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey now has the necessary paperwork to issue a ruling. The players’ union announced the reply brief shortly before Friday’s deadline but didn’t release its contents because it’s confidential . . . The New Orleans Saints placed undrafted rookie safety Smoke Monday on injured reserve Friday because of a knee injury. The Saints also added veteran free agent linebacker Kiko Alonso to the roster, marking his second stint with New Orleans . . . Washington Commanders coach Ron Rivera said Friday that Tre Walker, an undrafted rookie linebacker from the University of Idaho who had a real chance to make the roster, told him he was retiring.