In the mid-1970s, Connie Nicholas – now Connie Carberg – became the first female scout in NFL history. She was 24.
“I grew up around the Jets, which, really, I think was a help,” Carberg said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “That was where my confidence level was: talking football and just being around all these people. I just felt very comfortable, and in turn, they all treated me with the utmost respect.”
Carberg, now 66, recounted her NFL journey in a new book, X’s and O’s Don’t Mean I Love You: The Untold Story of the NFL’s First Female Scout.
The NFL, she noted, has embraced women in numerous roles, including athletic training, PR, sideline reporting, and, in some cases, assistant executives. But coaching and scouting have been a tough cookie to crack.
“Coaching, I understood, could be a little bit harder, especially in the pros,” Carberg said. “Maybe if you started in high school and college and the guys were a little more accepting and got used to it, but to jump right into the pros was going to be a little bit tougher. But now that they have woman playing actual tackle football – or even flag – that’s a real advantage. We had nothing like that back then. There weren’t even college scholarships for women when I was in high school.”
Carberg is happy that the Jets hired a female coaching intern, Collette Smith, this year, as well as three female scouting interns: Callie Brownson, Rachel Huhn, and Marirose Roach.
“Right now, from what I can see, the Jets have three interns that are in the scouting part and one coach,” Carberg said. “So this year seems to be the year of the woman breaking through – 40 years later.”