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Cardinals take page out of Al Davis playbook in hiring first female assistant coach

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The Arizona Cardinals made history today. They hired the first ever female coach. Her name is Jen Welter and Cardinals' head coach Bruce Arians has brought her into the fold as a coaching intern. She will coach the team's inside linebackers in training camp and preseason.

This isn't just a gimmick either. Welter has a lengthy football resume. She played college rugby and then went on to play in the Women's Football Alliance for 14 years.

Welter was also the first female to play a non-kicking position in a men's professional football league. She played running back and special teams for the Indoor Football League's Texas Revolution in 2014.

It's the kind of hire which Al Davis was well known, most notably when he made Amy Trask the first ever NFL executive and still the only ever NFL CEO back in 1997.

"Al hired without regard to race, religion, ethnicity and gender." Trask said Monday in an exclusive interview. "He would have hired someone from another planet if he believed that person was the right person for the job."

Trask has never been one to suggest females should receive any kind of special treatment or any consideration based on their gender one way or the other. Recently when the NFL announced they were hiring the first female official, she maintained that stance, stating she hopes the fans treat the new female official just as they would any male official, including but not limited to being booed if she makes a bad call.

"Sarah Thomas should be booed as loudly and as resoundingly as her male colleagues are booed," Trask told MMQB. "Gender equality means gender equality. And if gender equality is the expectation, all consequences that flow therefrom must be accepted, whether one likes them or not."

Trask maintained a similar feeling with regard to Welter's new position as an NFL assistant coach. And she has a great deal of her own experience to fall back on when it comes to how she expects the players and fellow coaches to view Welter.

"One's time, effort and energy are best spent focusing on one's job, not one's gender," Trask said. "My experience was that players evaluated me on the merits and interacted with me without regard to gender."

That stance would align pretty well with the late Al Davis. He didn't sign misfits to his football team for the sake of hiring misfits. He didn't hire the first minority head coach (Tom Flores) for the sake of hiring a minority. He didn't hire the first black head coach (Art Shell) for the sake of hiring a black head coach. And he didn't hire the first female executive because she was a female. He hired them because he thought they all could help him run a winning franchise - regardless of their race or gender. And for many years that philosophy served him and the Raiders very well.

If you want a parallel here, look no further than Cardinals team president, Michael Bidwell. The Cardinals have experienced great success ever since Bidwell took over as team president in 2007. His formula for running a team has had the Cardinals playing winning football nearly every season and had them in the Super Bowl in his second season running the team.

That too is not unlike Al Davis who a year after he became part owner saw the Raiders in the Super Bowl.

I guess that could be why the Cardinals had several former Raiders on their roster last season including Carson Palmer, Jared Veldheer, Matt Shaughnessy, and Tommy Kelly - the latter three were original Al Davis players.