The perception that football is a sport that caters to men and boys is one that disappears more and more with each year. Factors such as the popular NFL RedZone channel and fantasy football make it easier and easier for women and men who did not grow up watching the National Football League on a weekly basis to embrace and follow the league. Even casual sports fans who do not want to take part in yearly fantasy football leagues are now able to get in on the action thanks to weekly competitions that are offered by companies such as FanDuel and Draft Kings.
The total amount of women working within the NFL should only grow and grow in the foreseeable future. Sarah Thomas made history in September 2015 when she became the first female to serve as a referee during an NFL regular season game. Jennifer Welter (pictured above) was in sports and news headlines earlier this year when the Arizona Cardinals hired her to coach the team’s inside linebackers, a decision that made Welter the first female coach in the history of the league. The hope moving forward is that all teams would be open to hiring a woman to be a coach were the right situation to unveil itself.
Christina Settimi of Forbes produced a piece in September of this year about the women she described as the “NFL’s Female Financial Scorekeepers,” the nine individuals who “keep financial score” for NFL franchises. Those women, as Settimi described, all had a hand in the NFL making over $11 in revenue in 2014. The NFL is, financially speaking, the best thing going today in all of North American professional sports, and the popularity of the league is at an all-time high. Somewhere, there is a young female football fan who is dreaming of one day hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy as a head coach. That dream could come true for her.
9. Kelly Flanagan – Jacksonville Jaguars Senior Vice President and CFO
The Senior Vice President and CFO of the Jacksonville Jaguars who is a native of the area is no stranger to the NFL. Kelly Flanagan was part of the finance team for MetLife Stadium during the opening stages of that stadium, and she thus worked with both the New York Giants and the New York Jets. Flanagan and others within the front office of the Jaguars may find themselves looking for new homes if there is any fire behind the figurative smoke created by rumors that the club could relocate to London in the future. It is a poorly kept secret that the NFL would love to have a team overseas. Will that team be the Jaguars?
8. Jeanne M. Bonk – San Diego Chargers Executive Vice President and CFO
Jeanne M. Bonk is currently the Executive Vice President and CFO of the San Diego Chargers, a franchise that could be in the news in the next year for reasons that have little to do with how the team performs in regular season games. Rumors continue to linger that the Chargers could be looking to make an exit from San Diego, perhaps as quickly as next year, if the club does not get a shiny new home. Los Angeles is the city that has been linked with the Chargers, St. Louis Rams and Oakland Raiders, and it seems that it will be a matter of when and not if LA is once again an NFL town.
7. Cipora Herman – San Francisco 49ers CFO
Cipora Herman cemented her place in history when she became the first woman to ever be named CFO of the San Francisco 49ers. Before her time with the 49ers and in the NFL, Herman worked for, among other companies, Facebook and Yahoo. It has been a rough 12 months for Herman’s employer, as the 49ers are, on paper, a mess. The team’s head coach, Jim Harbaugh, sprinted out of town and back to the college game, San Francisco lost multiple talented players to retirement and/or free agency, and it is now believed that quarterback Colin Kaepernick may be playing for his job in 2015.
6. Jenneen Kaufman – Tennessee Titans Vice President/CFO
Vice President/CFO Jenneen Kaufman has been a mainstay of the Tennessee Titans for nearly two decades. Kaufman served as the team’s controller during her first 11 years with the club, and she was promoted to her current role back in 2008. It is a good time to be associated with the Titans if Week 1 of the 2015 regular season is any indication of what is to come. Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota looked like the real deal in his first NFL game, blowing out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he posted what was literally a perfect performance. The sky may be the limit for the first-year signal caller.
5. Marilan Logan – Houston Texans Vice President and CAO
Marilan Logan is another woman who has a long history with her NFL team. The Vice President and CAO of the Houston Texans first joined the club back in 2000, and she is currently tasked with handling the fiances of both the Texans and Lone Star Sports & Entertainment. More and more eyes are on the Texans every week because of superstar J.J. Watt, who is arguably the best defensive player in the league today. The NFL and the Texans have wisely turned Watt, who is a throwback to linebackers and other defensive players from decades ago, into a spokesman who is featured in multiple advertising campaigns.
4. Allison Maki – Detroit Lions Senior Vice President, Administration and CFO
The Detroit Lions made some significant changes to the franchise’s executive team in April of 2015, and Allison Maki was part of those moves. Maki was announced as the new Senior Vice President, Administration and CFO, and she is, according to the Lions, overseeing “the finance group, human resources and facility operations at the Lions Headquarters and Training Facility in Allen Park, and will also assist in the oversight and management of key business partners.” Maki has been part of the franchise since 2004. She worked at Ernst & Young before making the move to the NFL.
3. Karen Murphy – Chicago Bears CFO and Treasurer
Karen Murphy serves as the CFO and Treasurer for the Chicago Bears, one of the most storied franchises in the NFL. The self-proclaimed sports fanatic who explained to Crain’s Chicago Business in 2006 that she reserves vacation time to follow March Madness and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has an impressive sports resume, one that includes stints with ESPN and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Murphy has been employed by the Bears for 16 years, and she has held her current position with the club for 13 seasons. One has to wonder if Murphy has any strong opinions about the amount of money being paid to quarterback Jay Cutler.
2. Christine Procops – New York Giants Senior Vice President and CFO
The New York Giants have a reputation for being a classy organization that has enjoyed a large amount of stability over the years. Big Blue has been run by the iconic Mara family seemingly since forever, and Christine Procops has also been part of that stability. Procops has been the Senior Vice President and CFO of the Giants for 14 years and running, and she has been part of the franchise for over two decades. The mantra is often that somebody associated with the club is a “Giant for life,” and that could very well be the case for Procops.
1. Karen Spencer – Seattle Seahawks CFO
Has there ever been a better time to be CFO of the Seattle Seahawks? Karen Spencer, who joined the Seahawks all the way back in 1991 and who was bumped up to her current post in 2009, is the CFO of a franchise that has been in the Super Bowl in each of the past two years. Spencer is also Treasurer for the Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation and for the Seattle Seahawks Women’s Association. 2015 may be somewhat of a down year in that the Seahawks may not win another conference championship, but nobody should be expecting a massive decline from the club anytime soon.