Redskins Make History By Hiring Jennifer King, NFL's First Full-Time Female African American Coach

Brian Tinsman
February 08, 2020 - 6:31 pm
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On a day when most of Washington, D.C.'s football community was focused on the launch of the XFL at Audi Field, the Washington Redskins are working to finalize a deal with Jennifer King, to make her the NFL's first full-time, female, African-American assistant coach.

The report was originally broken by The Athletic.

Her working relationship with head coach Ron Rivera dates back to their mutual time in Carolina, where she served as a summer coaching intern for the Panthers for the last two seasons. She has a wealth of coaching experience, serving as an assistant coach for the Dartmouth College football team, an assistant coach for the now-defunct Alliance of American Football League's Arizona Hotshots, and the Johnson & Wales University women’s basketball team in Charlotte.

She also played professional football in the Women’s Football Alliance, winning a national championship with the New York Sharks 2018. She played both the quarterback and receiver positions.

"Growing up I just played in the backyard," King told Panthers.com last year. "My middle school wanted me to play. And then the high school thought I could help the team, but my Mom was like 'No, not happening.' But we had a neighborhood full of kids and I still played football whenever I could.

"After college, I played professional basketball in Australia and when I came back to the states, I had someone tell me I should play football. And that's how I started with the Carolina Phoenix."

During her time as a coaching intern with the Panthers, who worked directly with the team's wide receivers in 2018 and running backs in 2019. In 2019, while running backs coach Jake Peetz was on paternity leave, King had the opportunity to coach the running backs through practice and preseason action.

It is yet unclear what her role would be with the Redskins, seeing as the team already has a running backs coach (Randy Jordan) and receivers coach (Jim Hostler), as well as two offensive quality control coaches.

King led the Johnson & Wales to a U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association national championship in 2018, which gave her an opportunity to meet Rivera at a women's forum at that year's Pro Bowl. To keep up with her busy schedule in different parts of the country, she also took a part-time job as a Delta Airlines flight attendant so that she could fly for free.

"I guess I've always been busy," King told Panthers.com. "I don't really have a lot of chill time. I'm just not used to it. When I was growing up, in middle school, sometimes right after school I would have volleyball practice. My mom would come get me, take me to softball practice.

"I would leave softball practice and go to basketball practice. This is all before I even went home. I played two sports in college, and I was a resident assistant and did judicial board. I did tours. It's not really anything new to me. I've always been busy."

Women have taken an increasing role in the NFL in recent years, with multiple female majority owners, the NFL's first female official, the NFL's first female assistant coach, the first female assistant to coach in the Super Bowl, and finally King, who could continue her own legacy in the league.

This is a monumental moment for a franchise that at one time was the last team in football to integrate its roster. Then-owner George Preston Marshall happily employed a segregated roster until 1962, and traded for Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell--only because the John F. Kennedy administration, which owned the land where RFK Stadium was built and served as its landlord--made it a stipulation for using the stadium.

This story will be updated as details and confirmations become available.

Brian Tinsman has covered D.C. sports since 2011, both from the team marketing and skeptical fan perspectives. Tweet your criticisms @Brian_Tinsman.

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