Last Saturday, Jennifer Welter became the first woman ever to play a position other than kicker in a professional football game.
The historic moment occurred during an Indoor Footbal League matchup between the Texas Revolution and the North Texas Crunch. Welter, a 36-year-old veteran of the Women’s Football Alliance, entered the game at running back for the Revolution.
Welter, who stands 5-foot-2 and weighs 130 pounds, saw her first in-game action during the third quarter, when she received a handoff near the Crunch’s goal line. She took a brutal hit from opposing lineman Cedric Hearvey, but Welter immediately jumped to her feet, dispelling any notion that she was injured.
“I said, ‘Is that all you got?’ Welter told the Dallas Morning News. “[Crunch player] were getting all alive, and I had to say something. I didn’t want them to think I was intimidated.”
After the game, Hearvey said that he was impressed with Welter’s toughness. “Honestly, I really have a lot of respect for that lady over there,” he told the Dallas Morning News.
Welter got another goal line carry on the very next play. Once again, she endured a vicious tackle, only to bounce back to her feet.
In all, Welter carried the ball three times for -1 yards and had a minimal impact on the Revolution’s 64-30 preseason victory over the Crunch. Still, her status as the first woman to play at a “contact position” in a sport dominated by men is relevant in its own right.
“It was amazing,” Welter told For The Win. “I have the best team in the world and I proved to everyone I could get back up when I got hit and that’s all you can ask.”
Welter has dealt with contact before—she’s played linebacker for the WFA’s Dallas Diamonds since 2004. The pro football player is more interested in enhancing the visibility of women’s football than encouraging women to play in men’s leagues.
“I’ve thought of all the reasons why I might be the wrong person to do this,” she told the Dallas Morning News. “’You’re too small, you’re too this, you’re too that.’ The truth is if I can change the game, literally, for any of those girls, it’s worth it.”
When she isn’t playing football, Welter works as a sports psychologist, endorsement model, motivational speaker and trainer, For The Win reports.
Footage of Welter’s debut performance can be viewed below, courtesy of Fox Sports.
Tom Barrabi is a reporter for the International Business Times. He graduated from Fairfield University in 2011, and has also written for Men's Fitness, Complex, GuySpeed, and...