inside linebacker

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“I was a great football player […] Don’t say I said that. But, dude, I was a great football player. I was a fullback and an inside linebacker. I never had the speed to play college. But I loved it. I don’t think anything will ever take its place. The competition, the team. You get a little bit of that in acting. You get it with action films. You have to train, be in shape. I think I learned more about how to handle myself as an actor playing sports than I ever did in theater.”

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This badass woman just became the NFL’s first female coach 

The Arizona Cardinals made history Monday when the team announced the hiring of Jen Welter as a training camp/preseason intern coaching inside linebackers. The move makes Welter the first known woman to coach at the highest level of men’s football. But on the field, Welter has been breaking the football glass ceiling for over a decade.

Arizona Cardinals hire Jen Welter, NFL’s first female coach

The Arizona Cardinals have hired Jen Welter to coach inside linebackers through their upcoming training camp and preseason.

The Cardinals say Welter is believed to be the first woman to hold a coaching position of any kind in the NFL. Welter played running back and special teams in 2014 for the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League, becoming the first woman to hold a non-kicking position for a men’s professional sports league.

She coached linebackers and special teams for the Revolution last season, becoming the first woman to coach in a men’s pro football league.

Welter played linebacker for more than 14 seasons with the Dallas Diamonds of the Women’s Football Alliance and holds a master’s degree in sports psychology.

During the NFL owners meetings in March someone asked Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians about the possibility of female coaches in the NFL.

“The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they’ll be hired,” Arians said, noting that’s all any player ever really wants.

“Coaching is nothing more than teaching,” Arians said Monday. “One thing I have learned from players is, ‘How are you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don’t care if you’re the Green Hornet, man, I’ll listen.’ I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her.”

“She came for an OTA and I met her, and I thought she was the type of person that could handle this in a very positive way for women and open that door,” Arians said.

Arians added he had talked to the veterans on the Cardinals to tell them what he was going to do and “they were all very cool with it.”

“It’s not going to be a distraction in any way,” Arians said.

The move comes at a time when women have made some small inroads into the male professional sports. Sarah Thomas has been hired this season as the NFL’s first full-time female official. Becky Hammon was hired to be an assistant coach for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs last season, and as the Spurs’ summer league head coach led the team to a summer championship.

Arians said it wouldn’t be up to him whether putting a woman on his staff first would impact his legacy, but reiterated that he hopes it creates further opportunities for Welter and other women.

- BREAKING NEWS: RAVENS LB ROLANDO MCCLAIN HAS DECIDED TO RETIRE AT 23 - The Baltimore Ravens have placed inside linebacker and former first-round pick Rolando McClain on the reserve/retired list Wednesday afternoon, General Manager Ozzie Newsome announced via the team’s official website.

“Rolando let me know that he plans to retire from the NFL,” Newsome stated. “We have placed him on the Reserve/Retired list.”

McClain signed a one-year deal with the Ravens in April, but was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest just 10 days later in his hometown of Decatur, Ala. That was just the latest of McClain’s off-field problems since he was drafted by the Oakland Raiders with the eighth-overall pick in 2009.

In December of 2011, McClain was arrested and charged with third-degree assault.

In January, he was arrested after an officer pulled him over for a window tint violation. He reportedly pleaded guilty to that charge on May 6 and charges of providing false information were dropped.

Now McClain finishes his disappointing NFL career at just 23 years old. During his career McClain appeared in 41 games with the Raiders. He had 274 tackles, 6.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and 23 passes defensed.

The Ravens are not losing anything financially. They did not give McClain a contract with any guaranteed money. But now the team is down one less inside linebacker. Which means Arthur Brown (second-round pick) will get his opportunity to start as a rookie. (Photo: CBS Sports)

49ers LB Chris Borland retires from NFL due to fear of brain injury

San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” on Monday that he has decided to walk away from the game after just one season in the league because of concerns about the long-term effects of repetitive head trauma.

The 24-year-old Borland doesn’t feel the game is worth the risk anymore.

“I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” Borland told “OTL.” “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.

Borland, a fourth-round pick out of Wisconsin, had a very successful rookie season in San Francisco. He led the 49ers with 107 tackles and finished with one sack and two interceptions in 14 games. He finished fourth out of 60 qualified inside linebackers in Pro Football Focus’ grading system.

I feel largely the same, as sharp as I’ve ever been, for me it’s wanting to be proactive,” said Borland. “I’m concerned that if you wait till you have symptoms, it’s too late. … There are a lot of unknowns. I can’t claim that X will happen. I just want to live a long healthy life, and I don’t want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise.”

Borland said it wasn’t easy to decide to call it quits, but examples of some of the games past stars help him make the decision.

“I’ve thought about what I could accomplish in football, but for me personally, when you read about Mike Webster and Dave Duerson and Ray Easterling, you read all these stories and to be the type of player I want to be in football, I think I’d have to take on some risks that as a person I don’t want to take on,” Borland said.

Borland said he believed he suffered a concussion in training camp, but he played through it because he wanted to make the team. As the season progressed, he became more concerned about the issue.

He said the issue “gathered steam” as the season progressed. Before the fourth game of the pre-season, at Houston, he wrote a letter to his parents, informing them that he thought that his career in the NFL would be brief because of his concerns about the potential long-term effects of the head injuries.

After the season, Borland said, he consulted with prominent concussion researchers and former players to affirm his decision. He also scheduled baseline tests to monitor his neurological wellbeing going forward “and contribute to the greater research.” After thinking through the potential repercussions, Borland said the decision was ultimately “simple.”

Borland’s decision to retire comes less than a week after former 49ers All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis announced his retirement from the league at the age of 30 due to a toe injury.

Borland was expected to replace Willis and be a key part of the 49ers defense this season

Willis’ retirement had no role in his decision, Borland said.