Bills make NFL history – hire first female assistant coach

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Buffalo Bills are blazing a path for the National Football League with the announcement that they will promote a female staffer to the coaching staff as an assistant.

Bills officials confirmed Wednesday one of Rex Ryan’s assistants has officially been promoted to the coaching staff as the new Quality Control-Special Teams Coach. This marks the first time in NFL history that a female has occupied a full-time coaching.


“Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff,” Ryan said. “She certainly deserves this promotion based on her knowledge and strong commitment, just to name a couple of her outstanding qualities.”

Smith followed Ryan as he transitioned from Head Coach of the New York Jets to his position in Buffalo. She started her career with the Jets as an intern, and quickly worked her way up to a Player Personnel Assistant, then to Assistant to the Head Coach. In Buffalo, she served as Administrative Assistant to the Head Coach.

“She has proven that she’s ready for the next step, so I’m excited and proud for her with this opportunity,” Ryan said of his new assistant coach. “She will work with Danny Crossman and Eric Smith involving a number of responsibilities.”

Ryan said he consulted with Bruce Arians, head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, who made waves when he hired Jenn Welter to another NFL first — a linebackers training camp assistant coach. Her position, however, did not extend past camp.

“You can see the success some of these young ladies are having in the coaching profession, such as the young lady that is an assistant to Coach (Greg) Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs, and realize how exciting this is for women like Kathyrn Smith, as well as the Bills organization.”

This upcoming season will be Smith’s 14th working inside the NFL. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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