LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. - When the Washington Football Team's Jennifer King received news that would cement her place in NFL history, she could have celebrated, but instead it was business as usual.
"I was excited, but I was in the middle of working, preparing for that week," King said about the moment she received the good news. "Kinda just went back to work."
The Washington Football Team was still in the midst of its 2020 season, after all, so King had a game to prep for when she was told she'd be promoted to assistant running backs coach. The promotion makes her the first Black female in NFL history to become a full-time assistant position coach.
"A lot of us are in our positions because some people have reached back for us and helped us along the way," King said. "That’s what they’re doing. They’re realizing that there are females capable of working in football at a high level.”
One of the many who have helped her along the way is Washington coach Ron Rivera, who gave King her first coaching role in the NFL as a Carolina Panthers intern during the 2018 and 2019 offseasons. After serving as coaching intern for Washington in 2020, Rivera's the one who delivered the news that she'd become a full-time assistant coach.
"Every time I've increased her responsibilities, she’s stepped up to the plate and has done a great job," Rivera said. "I think with this move we’re gonna see an even more competitive, more outgoing Jennifer King."
Jennifer isn't the first female king to be crowned a trailblazer in sports. Billie Jean King, a tennis legend and activist, has a few congratulatory words of her own for her namesake.
"As Vice President Kamala Harris says, she may be the first in her new role, but she won’t be the last and the same holds true for you," Billie Jean said to Jennifer. "In a new history making job, you will inspire generations of children, because if you can see it you can be it."
"I think it’s really important right now to be a good representative of what I didn’t have. I couldn’t look in the NFL and see anyone that looked like me working," King said. "To be able to see that I think is big. It's been a great few months for women in general, just with things that have been accomplished, and I think it’s important for them to know that they’re strong and capable of doing whatever they want to do."
As for King, what is it she wants to do as she sets her sights on future goals?
"We’ll see," King said. "I’ve always been a coach that I’m happy where I am and doing my best there. We’ll see what happens. Right now, I’m focused on how we can be better next year. That’s my real focus at the moment, how we can make every player better and how we can make our team better."
In the same way she responded to news of her historic promotion, it's business as usual.