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New EarBurner Podcast: Odessa Jenkins Wants You To Take Women’s Tackle Football Seriously

You may ask why it’s necessary to add a gender qualifier to tackle football. This is football, after all, same as you know it, only played by women. Pose this question to retired running back Odessa Jenkins—who for years jab-stepped, weaved, sprang, leaped, and spun until she hit the end zone—and she’ll say, no, it’s absolutely necessary. Marginalized people need qualifiers when they’re entering new territory, she says. “So we say those things until they’re not necessary.”

Jenkins is the chief operating officer of the Women’s National Football Conference and the head coach of the Texas Elite Spartans, Dallas’ team. There are 16 total teams in the league—Dallas and Houston represent Texas—and the goal is to turn it into the first-ever women’s league in which the women actually get paid. They’re selling sponsorships to brands like Adidas, a stark difference from women’s leagues in the past that required the players to fork over somewhere north of $1,000 a year just to play a season. When their season kicks off in April, they’ll play at Prestonwood Baptist.

These women are good. Jenkins especially, when she was playing. They’re not in lingerie, and they want you to take them seriously. Show notes after the jump.

1. Before we go any further, watch this.

2. Kathy thought this was the last time she was on EarBurner, talking about football. But it was actually about old houses.

4. The U.S.A. has a team that competes in the Women’s World Championship each year. We are, if you couldn’t guess, quite good.

6. Jenkins points to Friday Night Tykes as proof that there’s a market for watching people other than men play football. As she notes, “It creates a different product … Someone who looks like you, moves like you, doing a thing, is powerful.”

7. Check out all 15 teams of the Women’s National Football Conference right here, including the New Orleans Hippies and the Utah Falconz (and, yes, that’s a “z” for some reason.)

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