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Bruce Arians is leading the push for gender and racial equality in the NFL, but who’s following? (USA)

The National Football League is sparing no expense to celebrate it’s 100th anniversary season, a century of growth, development and change as the league morphed from its formative years as the domain of an upstart band of gamblers and bootleggers to its place now as, unquestionably, the country’s dominant sporting enterprise and the envy of other sports.

Each year it creeps closer to commissioner Roger Goodell’s goal of $20 billion in annual revenue. America’s Game, indeed.

And while that growth, eventually, came to be more inclusionary on the field with regard to race on the playing rosters ? diversity in coaching, management and ownership remains a different matter entirely ? the idea of gender equality in pro football has seemingly only begin to even be haphazardly chatted about at the highest levels in recent years. Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, for one, hopes that reverses course, drastically, for the better. And sooner rather than later.

Arians’ recent hiring of two female assistant coaches — Lori Locust (assistant defensive line) and Maral Javadifar (assistant strength and conditioning) — quickly became a national news story because of how unusual it was; the fact that 100 years into the NFL something like that would still be considered a curious novelty doesn’t quite sit well with Arians. For good reason.

Like with many massive corporations, change can come in the smallest of increments, and cracking the Ol’ Boys Club ain’t ever easy. Perhaps the inherent machismo that comes from the violent nature of this game explains why the NFL lags behind, say, MLB and the NBA in being more open and willing to embrace at least some semblance of gender equality through the front office ranks. And, perhaps, hearing a progressive leader like Arians (who also has the most racially diverse staff in the game) speak passionately about such issues will influence more of his peers to do the same.



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