Almost a year ago, Sarah Thomas became the NFL's first full-time female official. In August of 2015, the Jets replaced Rod Graves with Jacqueline Davidson. In January of this year, the Bills made Kathryn Smith the first full-time female coach.
As a reader kindly pointed out, Amy Trask, the former CEO of the Oakland Raiders, was the original trailblazer. Names like Connie Carberg, believed to be the first female NFL scout, also deserve a significant place in NFL history.
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But for Dawn Aponte, the Dolphins' executive vice president of football administration, she sees bigger things on the horizon as she prepares for a 26th season in the NFL. Aponte, who rarely gives interviews, is widely viewed as one of the most powerful women in football and controls many aspects of Miami's operation including contract negotiations.
"Absolutely, absolutely," Aponte told The Palm Beach Post when asked if there will one day be a female general manager running a team's personnel. "I have a 15-year-old daughter who wants to be a scout. Of course I'm trying to steer her away from that, a football life. ... My son wants to be a coach and my daughter wants to be a scout -- and I still have hope with the younger two."
Aponte has spent nearly three decades re-writing the script. A lawyer and owner of a Masters degree in finance, she worked for the Jets for 15 years before joining the league office and then working for the Browns. She came to the Dolphins in 2009. If anyone is on track to become the first female general manager, it is Aponte, as the Post first surmised back in 2013.
"For me, it was always, why are there no women?" Aponte said. "And to this day, I still find it really mind-boggling to some extent that there aren't more women because I don't really feel that there are necessarily barriers that are up. I just feel like I don't know if women are taking or trying to take this career path."
For now, she is not thinking that way and took time during her interview with the Post to dispel rumors that she is power-hungry and looking to overtake the Dolphins' front office. She helped the team land Adam Gase and keep another massive free agent class under the books -- neither of which will make Aponte a less viable candidate if the opportunity ever arises.