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Bills hire Kathryn Smith, first full-time female coach


The Buffalo Bills have become the second team to be on the right side of gender progress in the NFL.

Kathryn Smith was named the Bills' quality control-special teams coach on Wednesday, the team announced.

The move comes less than a year after the Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter to serve as a training-camp assistant coach. Smith's role is a full-time gig, the first for a woman in the NFL.

"Kathryn Smith has done an outstanding job in the seven years that she has worked with our staff," Bills coach Rex Ryan said in a statement released by the team. "She certainly deserves this promotion based on her knowledge and strong commitment, just to name a couple of her outstanding qualities, and I just know she's going to do a great job serving in the role of quality control-special teams.

"I consulted with (Cardinals coach) Bruce Arians on this since he was really the first NFL head coach to make this kind of move when he hired a female linebackers coach through the summer," Ryan continued. "You can see the success some of these young ladies are having in the coaching profession, such as the young lady (Becky Hammon) that is an assistant to Coach (Greg) Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs, and realize how exciting this is for women like Kathryn Smith as well as the Bills organization."

According to the team's website, Smith served as an administrative assistant under Ryan this past season. She held the same role with Ryan in his final season as Jets coach in 2014. She also worked as a player personnel assistant with the Jets for seven years.

Smith has her foot in the door and hopefully gets the opportunity to climb up the coaching ladder. If she does, she'll break ground each step of the way.