Each weekend of football brings with it unforgettable moments and interesting tidbits, but this past two-day stretch of action featured even more with important milestones and more barriers being broken within the sport.
On Saturday, Sarah Fuller became the first woman to play in a Power 5 college football game when she took the field as the placekicker for the Vanderbilt Commodores. Just a day later, Cleveland Browns chief of staff Callie Brownson became the first woman to coach a position group in the NFL, as she led the tight end unit against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The achievements were something that Washington head coach Ron Rivera was proud to have witnessed
“I think it’s really cool. I really do. I think what it signifies is that, first of all, a lot of these barriers are being broken down. I think that’s important, especially today with the way society’s changing," Rivera said. "We’ve got to come to terms that this is our new reality. Women in professional sports that have been predominantly male, those doors are starting to get kicked down."
For Rivera, seeing the likes of Fuller and Brownson do something that has never been done before is another positive trend for the sports world. As he noted, football -- and sports in general -- has long been a male-dominated profession.
Yet, Fuller, Brownson and others such as Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng are changing that. The head coach believes their achievements and hard work will continue to act as a springboard and inspiration for others to do the same.
"We saw what’s happening in baseball with the first female general manager. It’s been a long time coming. First of all, there are so many women that have been involved in female athletics," Rivera said. "It’s just the first step in the right direction because it’s going to give opportunities to everybody, not just certainly men but women as well."
The achievements and game-changing moments over the weekend were special for both Fuller and Brownson, but Rivera knows what they did will impact far more than just themselves. It's an important milestone for their sport, other sports and society as a whole.
"I just think it’s good for us, it’s good for the world and it’s good for our business," Rivera said.