TAMPA, Fla – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to be at the forefront of the NFL’s efforts to hire women. After hiring assistant coaches Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar during the 2019 offseason, the Bucs have hired Jacqueline Davidson, previously director of football administration for the New York Jets, to lead football research.
“She’s brilliant. She’s brilliant with a lot of things, but she’s really brilliant with the numbers and the analysis,” chief executive Jason Licht told ESPN. “It was very important to bring her in here. You can’t have enough smart people. … She’s going to help us integrate the analysis into our overall football decisions.”
Davidson had been with the Jets from 2007 to 2018, becoming one of the highest ranked women in the NFL and one of the few black women working in an NFL front office and in an analytical role.
“It’s incredibly humiliating, and at the same time, I recognize its importance,” Davidson told ESPN. “It was important for me when I was younger, to think about things I wanted to do, to see people who looked like me, not only in jobs that I knew existed, but in jobs that I had no idea. “
“One of the things that, especially for women and people of color, is a lot of jobs that I think people close because I think they just don’t know them. So it’s important to raise awareness and that’s something I take very seriously. “
Davidson made her debut in the league office as a legal intern in 2004. She has spent the last two years working as a consultant for NFL teams and with agents.
Licht told ESPN the hiring was less about opening a position and more about acquiring top talent.
While Davidson served as the chief contract negotiator with the Jets – including awarding Darrelle Revis with a $ 70 million contract in 2015 – her job in Tampa will be to oversee research and analysis, though not not exclusively analytical – she is well versed in the X’s and O’s and she will help Licht and Director of Football Administration Mike Greenberg with the salary cap and contracts.
“I don’t always like the word ‘analytics’ because people think it’s numbers that you put in a program or in an algorithm, and spit out what you should be doing, and teams use analytics. for years when they fall apart. band “said Licht.” But now sometimes you get caught up in ‘it’s the trendy thing to do.’ We just want to do it the right way. “
Davidson previously worked with Greenberg, also a Cornell graduate, when he interned with the Jets in 2008 and 2009, seeing her as a mentor. She also worked with Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who was previously the head coach of the Jets.
In addition to the hires of Locust and Javadifar last year, Licht hired a recognition assistant, Carly Helfand, who had worked in recruiting at the University of Pennsylvania.
“It’s very important to me,” Licht said of helping women get opportunities in football. “Obviously with Bruce you know how he feels about it. But why I’m so proud of Jackie for – and with all of our others? [female staffers], but we’re just talking about Jackie here – that it never even occurred to me about her race or gender. It was, “I want the best. And it turns out that she is a black woman.
“It’s great for her. It’s great for the organization. But that wasn’t about that. It was about hiring the right person. It just happens to be a woman and a minority. I’m just proud of her, of the success. she’s had, the opportunities she’s had – and she’s going to have an impact on our organization. “She will not only be working in football administration, but alongside college and professional scouting departments and the current Bucs roster in an unprecedented year where college football could come to a halt and access to screening could be limited.
“It’s going to be a year of study because who knows where the college football landscape is. Who knows when it’s going to start? She’s going to help us find the best ways to identify talent and the best ways to find it. . Just with her background, she can help us all. She can help in all areas. “
While Davidson’s current goal is to improve the Buccaneers and make them one of the best analysis departments in the league, she acknowledged that in the long run, she has considered becoming a general manager one day. .
“I think everyone thinks about it because we all are – from the moment we are in school we are always taught short and long term goals. So yeah, I thought about running. a team someday. My immediate goal right now is this, but I don’t think I would be a good planner, to some extent, if I didn’t think about it later. But for now, I’m just happy to be Buccaneer . For now, I’ll leave it at that. I’m happy to see if we can’t hoist the Lombardi, and we’ll look to the future tomorrow. “
Licht’s 9-year-old daughter Zoe also aspires to work in the NFL someday. She has a passion for soccer, just like her two brothers, Charlie and Theo, and they often play as a family in the front yard. Licht said he thought of her when he saw women like Davidson continue to smash glass ceilings.
“I hope she becomes GM,” Licht said of her daughter. “My boys, right now at their age, of course, they want to be NFL football players. My daughter – she says she wants to be a coach or general manager. As a father, it’s a great feeling that my daughter, when she comes and she sees the staff and she sees the coaches – she’s 9 and doesn’t really understand the hurdles they’ve had to go through and the obstacles that women and minorities have had to cross in the past. “
“But when she sees it and we talk about the hires that we’ve made and she looks at the website and everything – it’s more the norm and it’s not a hindrance anymore. I think it is. great that this next generation of young girls and minorities will grow up thinking, “It’s not impossible. The game will not be against me. “”
When asked what she would say to young girls and young people of color who want to follow in her footsteps, Davidson said: “Always think outside the box. I think a lot of times we see players, we see coaches. and we put football. in that box of “You have to play and you have to train.” There are a lot of different components that go into sport in general – football in particular – and just, you can do, especially now, you can almost create a path for yourself out of whatever you’re good at in it. at sports like anything else. Don’t rate it to certain things you see on TV, because that isn’t not all that our trades and trades are. “