Jennifer Welter is the first woman to play in a men’s professional football league (not in the position of kicker or holder) with her appearance in an Indoor Football League preseason game last Saturday.
Playing running back for the Texas Revolution, Welter rushed three times and almost scored on her last carry, but was stopped by North Texas Crunch defensive end Cedric Hearvey, notes the Associated Press (video below).
"I said to [Hearvey], 'Is that all you got?'" Welter told the Dallas Morning News. "They were getting all alive, and I had to say something. I didn't want them to think I was intimidated."
Hearvey actually asked Welter's coach to take her out of the game.
"Honestly, it was very weird," Hearvey recalled. "Part of me wanted to let her score, but part of me had a job. So I was like, 'Can y'all please take her out?'"
"Honestly, I really have a lot of respect for that lady over there," added Hearvey.
Welter has played linebacker for the Dallas Diamonds of the Women’s Football Alliance since 2004, but could still get cut by the Texas Revolution before the regular season starts.
However, Welter admits she played against the men more for symbolic purposes than a career switch.
“I’ve thought of all the reasons why I might be the wrong person to do this, ‘You’re too small, you’re too this, you’re too that,’” Welter explained. “The truth is if I can change the game, literally, for any of those girls, it’s worth it. Because it’s really not about me. It’s about them and the future of the sport."