The Buffalo Bills will not retain assistant coach Kathryn Smith for the upcoming season under new coach Sean McDermott, the team announced Tuesday.
Smith became the first woman in NFL history to serve as a full-time coach when former Bills coach Rex Ryan hired her to a special-teams quality control role in January 2016.
Upon being hired to replace Ryan last month, McDermott announced he would retain special-teams coordinator Danny Crossman from Ryan’s coaching staff. It is unclear whether Smith, who helped Crossman coach the Bills’ special-teams units last season, was interested in returning to the same role as part of McDermott’s staff.
Smith’s hiring last year drew national attention and praise from several politicians and prominent women’s groups. Smith was also invited to the White House in May 2016 for a Women’s History Month reception.
Asked in June if there was “something” to breaking the NFL’s gender barrier, Smith said, “I suppose, yes, there is. But that’s not what really what I’m focused on. So yes, I suppose it is, but again, it’s an honor. I recognize that, and I recognize the honor. I’m just trying to help the team and be the best coach I can, so that’s what I’m focused on.”
In her entry-level position last season, Smith broke down game film of past and future opponents, helped assemble special-teams game plans and assisted Crossman in coaching those units during practices and games.
Smith served as Ryan’s administrative assistant in 2014 with the New York Jets and in 2015 after Ryan was hired by the Bills. She joined the Jets in 2003 as a game-day/special events intern before being named a college scouting intern in 2005 and a player personnel assistant in 2007.
After Smith impressed Ryan by diagramming a blitz scheme that was discussed in a Jets coaches’ meeting in 2014, Ryan began exposing Smith to coaching and eventually hired her to a full-time quality-control role last year.