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New Atlanta pro football team hires pioneering female coach

Atlanta’s new startup professional football team is tackling the sport’s gender barrier.

The Atlanta Legends said Tuesday that it has added three new coaches to head coach Brad Childress‘ staff: Jen Welter (defensive specialist), Miles Robinson (offensive assistant) and Tyler Anderson (defensive assistant).

Welter was the first female coach in the history of the NFL — one of the few to ever do so — breaking into the pro ranks as a linebackers coach at training camp with the Arizona Cardinals in 2015. She became head coach of the first Australian women’s national team in 2017.

Welter’s career in football includes becoming the first woman to play running back in a men’s professional football league with the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League in 2014. Her career highlights as a player in women’s football include two gold medals with Team USA, four World Championships (in Super Bowl for Women) and eight all-star selections. She was inducted into the first class of the Women’s Football Hall of Fame on November 30, 2018. Welter has served on the advisory board for the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Game for Life Academy since 2017.

The Legends are one of eight teams joining the new Alliance of American Football League, a startup spring football league aiming to develop players on the fringe of NFL rosters. No other teams have reported signing a female coach.

Announced in March, the Alliance, co-founded by film producer Charlie Ebersol and Hall of Fame NFL exec Bill Polian, starts Feb. 9, 2019 — six days after Super Bowl LIII takes place inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Legends will travel to Spectrum Stadium as part of the kickoff games, matching up with the Orlando Apollos. The Legends’ first home game, at Georgia State’s football stadium, comes two weeks later, on March 3 against the Birmingham Iron.

The Legends are counting on former University of Georgia star quarterback Aaron Murray to be the face of the franchise, and he will learn from former Atlanta Falcons icon Michael Vick, who is the offensive coordinator.

Here are details on the Legends’ other two coaching hires:

  1. Robinson played at Tuskegee University and Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta. His coaching career began at his alma mater in 2012 as he tutored tight ends and H-backs and then moved to the offensive line and special teams until 2016. In 2017, Robinson served as assistant director of player development/operations analyst for one season at UCLA. He accepted the tight ends/H-back position at Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama for the 2018 season and helped the school to a SIAC Conference Championship. A former standout linebacker for the Golden Tigers , Robinson was a three-year captain at Tuskegee.

  2. Anderson has been working on head coach Kirk Ferentz’ staff at Iowa for the last eight seasons. The Drummond Island, Michigan native assisted with the Hawkeyes’ special teams in 2018. Anderson was a graduate assistant at Iowa from 2015-17 working with the school’s linebackers and defensive backs. As an undergraduate assistant, he began his career on the Iowa sidelines assisting with the linebackers in 2011.

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