Lauren Silberman may not end up being the first woman to play in the NFL, but she is already one step closer than any woman before her. At the NFL regional combine in New Jersey on March 2 and 3, 28-year-old Silberman, became the first woman to ever participate in a regional combine. The place kicker showed off her skills along with other NFL hopefuls at the New York Jets’ practice facilities in hopes of impressing NFL scouts.
Compared to its recent bad press regarding sexuality, the NFL must be thrilled that the league can tout its “no male-only rule.” If Silberman can get signed to an NFL team—aside from the obvious press she would receive as the first woman in the NFL — it remains to be seen how a league with issues regarding sexual orientation would handle a woman player.
Silberman is still a ways from signing with an NFL team. The NFL regional combines are set up for players that weren’t invited to the league’s combine in Indianapolis. There are 10 regional combines throughout the country. From the regional combines, the best players will be invited to the super-regional in Dallas in April. It is there that a team could pick up a player.
In a Daily Mail article, Silberman said, “I am working hard to prepare but I am also realistic about my chances. I hope my willingness to put myself out there inspires others to seize opportunities and challenges. The support from around the world has been so heartening."
Silberman honed her kicking skills playing club soccer at the University of Wisconsin and wrote her Master’s thesis at MIT on how athletes can use video games to improve their athletic performance.
Imagine that Silberman impresses enough scouts to be invited to the NFL super-regional combine in Dallas. There, she dazzles and is signed to an NFL contract and joins a team. If a league has trouble with players being open to homosexuals, how are they going to treat a woman? The NFL has a no male-only rule. The NFL also doesn’t have a rule excluding homosexuals, but that doesn’t mean that a gay player is comfortable in a locker room.
I find it hard to believe that the current players would be accepting of a woman joining their squad. It is great for the NFL that a woman is trying out for a spot on an NFL team. If she has the skills to help out a team, that team should sign her. The NFL wants to be seen as this open, accepting league, but it seems that they fail to actually practice what they preach.
Whether Silberman will be a good enough kicker to suit up on Sundays is still to be seen. If she is, the NFL needs to make sure that she is treated as an equal, just like they claim everyone else is.