- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 9, 2020

As the Arizona Hotshots went over the film after one of their games last year in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football, Rashad Ross started to lose his temper. The receiver then stormed out of the meeting room, upset with how his coach was portraying what had happened on the field.

Chasing after him was Jennifer King, Arizona’s assistant wide receivers coach. She sat him down and delivered a message: “You can’t deal with certain situations with your emotions. Just listen, no matter how angry you get. Keep calm, and then after the fact, go to the coach and talk to him calmly.”

The advice immediately helped.

“She just really calmed me down,” Ross said, “and made me see the big picture.”

It’s that type of demeanor and insight, Ross says, the Washington Redskins can expect as they look to hire King, who would become the first female assistant coach in franchise history and the first black female full-time assistant in NFL history. Redskins coach Ron Rivera is expected to add King to his staff as an offensive assistant after working together previously in Carolina, according to multiple reports,

With the Panthers, King served as a wide receivers coaching intern in 2018 and a running backs coaching intern in 2019. She was first brought on in 2017.

If hired, King would become the fourth woman in the NFL to be a full-time assistant — joining San Francisco 49ers’ Katie Sowers and Tampa Bay’s Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar.

King is currently an offensive quality control coach for Dartmouth College.

“I think she’s going to do really well,” said Ross, now with the XFL’s D.C. Defenders. “She loves football. She likes studying. … It’s a big move for her and for the upcoming females that get a shot.

“From the jump, she showed us — not just told us — that she knew what she was talking about,” he said later.

Ross said King used her own experience as a player to connect with her players. Just two years ago, King was a quarterback and a receiver for the New York Sharks — a semi-professional team in the Women’s Football Association. She also spent nine years with the Carolina Phoenix, playing a variety of positions.

Beyond football, King was a star athlete in basketball and softball at Guilford College. She first got into coaching basketball, first as an assistant at Greensboro College before becoming the women’s basketball coach at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte.

In 2016, King was one of 50 women chosen to participate in the NFL’s Women’s Careers in Football Forum. It was there she first met Rivera, who hired her two years later.

“One of the biggest things I learned from Jennifer is there is a whole untapped source of (talent) in coaching,” Rivera told the Charlotte Observer at last year’s Women’s Careers in Football Forum. “She’s a unique individual. … Here’s a person who really wants to put herself out there and wants to create that opportunity.”

The NFL’s hiring practices have come under scrutiny in recent years. While there has been an increase in roles for women, the league has come under fire for the lack of minority hires at the head coaching level. This offseason, Rivera, who is of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent, was the only person of color to gain a head coaching job.

Ross, meanwhile, said players didn’t look at King as “just a female coach.” He added she is very outgoing and has a “great personality.”

“She knew her stuff just like — it didn’t matter if she was a female or a male — she knew her stuff just as much as the male (coaches),” Ross said. “It was just (taught) more calm.”



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