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Michael Sam helped pave way for NFL's first female coach

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Arizona Cardinals thought outside the box to hire Jen Welter.

Jen Welter coaching with the Arizona Cardinals
Jen Welter coaching with the Arizona Cardinals
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

One of the interesting backstories to how Jen Welter got her job as a coaching intern with the Arizona Cardinals -- the first for a woman -- is the influence Michael Sam had. Team President Michael Bidwill said this on the NFL Network:

"It really started at the league meeting in March," Bidwill said. "It was here in Arizona actually at the Biltmore and we were having a discussion about the way the league had developed and whether it was time. Last year there was a lot of talk about Michael Sam and the impact he was going to make on our game and then the next step was; are there roles for women in non-traditional areas? Coach [Bruce Arians] just started talking, he leaned over to me and said, 'I know we can go out and bring some folks in.' I said, 'Great go for it.' A couple months later he starts talking to me about Coach Welter. I said, 'Let's bring her on.' "

That's a great example of an organization being attuned to change. Sam's drafting last season made every NFL team aware of issues involving gay players. The owners all listened to a talk by Wade Davis, who described what it was like to be a gay player in an NFL locker room. So this season, the Cardinals and their progressive coach, Arians, thought about breaking another barrier and Welter was hired.

Welter is getting high marks from the Cardinals linebackers, the group she is mainly working with. "Dr. J," linebacker Sean Weatherspoon exclaimed unprompted to ESPN.com when asked about Welter. "She's pretty cool, man."

Big props to the Cardinals for thinking outside the box and this shows how success by one marginalized group in a profession can lead to success by another.