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For the first time in league history, three women were on the field in an official capacity during Sunday's game between the Washington Football Team and Cleveland Browns.
Jennifer King, who joined the coaching staff in February, is a full-year coaching intern and works with Washington's running backs; Callie Brownson is Cleveland's Chief of Staff and has been with the team since January; and Sarah Thomas was the down judge during the game and has been an NFL referee since 2015.
"I think it is about time that there is some gender equity in this sport," head coach Ron Rivera said after the game. "Women love this game. A lot of them want to play this game, and they play it. A lot of them want to coach it, and they are coaching it. All we are doing is just creating opportunities for people that deserve it."
King assisted in coaching the wide receivers and running backs during two coaching internships with the Carolina Panthers in 2018 and 2019. She helped create scouting cards for opposing defenses, worked 1-on-1 with rookies on playbook proficiencies and analyzed drill efficiency among several other responsibilities.
King also brings multiple years of playing experience to Washington's staff. She was a seven-time All-American as a quarterback for the Women's Football Alliance and compiled a 75-17 record. During her 11-year career, King and the Phoenix won an IWFL Championship, the Founders Bowl and a Founders Bowl Tournament Championship.
Following her 2019 internship with the Panthers, King was an offensive assistant for Dartmouth College and worked with the team's wide receivers. The team won the Ivy League Championship with a 9-1 record and averaged 33.3 points per game and 382.4 yards per game.
"Jennifer is a bright young coach and will be a great addition to our staff," Rivera said after King was hired. "Her familiarity with my expectations as a coach and my firsthand knowledge of her work ethic and preparation were big factors in bringing her to [Washington]."
Prior to joining the Browns, Brownson was an offensive quality control coach for Dartmouth, making her the first full-time college coach at the Division I level. She also served as a scouting intern for the New York Jets in 2017.
Thomas was the first woman to officiate a major college football game between Memphis and Jacksonville State in 2007. At the end of the 2009 season, she was the first woman to officiate a bowl game when she was selected to work the Little Caesars Bowl between Marshall and Ohio. In 2011, Thomas worked as a line judge in a game between Northwestern and Rice, making her the first woman to officiate in a Big 10 stadium.
Since joining the NFL in 2015, Thomas has officiated scrimmages and regular season games. In 2019, she received her first on-field assignment for a playoff game between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers.
Rivera said he was proud of all the women participating in Sunday's game, including King for what she has accomplished in her career.
"I have given her an opportunity with internships to show me that she deserves the opportunity, and she has earned it. She is running with it. Again, this is all about making sure that people that deserve opportunities get them."
-- Matt Ioannidis placed on Injured Reserve: Fifth-year defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis was off to a strong start, but now his season is over after tearing his bicep against the Cleveland Browns. Ioannidis, who recorded 1.5 sacks and seven tackles in two games, suffered his injury after playing in nine defensive snaps. He sat out the rest of the game, and Rivera confirmed on Sirius XM Radio that he was done for the year.
"That's disappointing," Rivera said. "He started so strong for us. He's such a physical player, he's a huge presence in the middle, so we're going to miss him."
-- Washington receives positive news about Dontrelle Inman: Speaking of injuries, wide receiver Dontrelle Inman also left the Browns game in the fourth quarter holding his wrist and did not return. Inman had a strong game, scoring two of Washington's three touchdowns. Fortunately, Rivera said the X-rays on Inman's wrist came back negative and that it was not fractured.
"He played well. He was a presence obviously with the touchdown catches. He's a guy that kind of helps lead those young guys, so I've been very pleased with having Dontrelle around."
-- Rivera gives his thoughts on explaining his plan for long-term success to veterans: Rivera has a plan for building long-term success in Washington. There are plenty of young players for him to build around, but there are also experienced veterans on the roster who want to win now. Players like Thomas Davis Sr. are near the ends of their careers and likely won't factor into the team's plan five years from now. Rivera understands that, but he also wants those veterans to know they are here to help and be part of the team.
"I just think everyone has to understand that there's a group of guys that, for the foreseeable future, are our future. Right now, I'm doing what I believe is best for this football team."
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