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The NFL’s relationship with its female fan base is checkered, at best.

When it comes to selling its product to our mothers, daughters and wives, the league is all in. It’s been estimated that women make up 45 percent of the overall NFL fan base. The league, obviously, works hard to appeal to its female fans. That's because it helps the league's bottom line, and the NFL is a bottom-line operation.

When it comes to punishing its players for violence committed against women and gender hiring … well those are completely different stories.

The league and its teams have consistently shown a disappointing reluctance to adequately punish its players for domestic abuse and other violence against women. That’s especially true if there is no video of the incident.

The general rule of thumb has been that teams will overlook practically any transgression if the player involved can still help a team win. Talent trumps character nearly every time.

When it comes to gender hiring, meanwhile, the league received a “C” grade from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport in its most recent report.

Arians shows way: Fortunately for the league, one man is doing his best to help the league improve that grade, and its reputation with its female fan base. His name is Bruce Arians and he grew up right here in York County.

Arians, as almost everyone is these parts knows, was a stellar high school athlete in the area who went on to a long and successful football coaching career in both the college and professional ranks.

He was recently hired as the head coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Shortly after he got the Bucs’ job, during a forum at the Super Bowl in Atlanta last month, he promised to hire a female assistant on his Tampa Bay staff.

He fulfilled that vow, and then some. Last week, Arians hired not one, but two female assistants.

Arians picked Lori Locust as an assistant defensive line coach and added Maral Javadifar as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. Not only did they become the first full-time female coaches in franchise history, but the Bucs are the first NFL team with two female coaches on staff.

Of course, helping women get a foothold in NFL coaching is nothing new for Arians. In 2015, when he was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, it was Arians who hired Jen Welter on an internship basis for training camp.

"Coolest" coach in NFL: Arians is well known for his outside-the-box thinking when it comes to coaching.

It’s a profession that’s become famous (or infamous) over the years for head coaches who demand outrageous amounts of work time from assistants.

Arians, in contrast, has threatened to fire assistants who miss their children’s events in favor of work.

Actions such as those, and the fact that he’s generally regarded as candid, funny and charismatic, have earned the kangol-hat-wearing Arians a reputation as the “coolest” coach in the NFL.

There’s no doubt that Arians is “cool.” There’s also no doubt that he knows what he’s doing.

It’s why the 66 year old is still thriving in the coaching profession after more than four decades. He may be old enough to receive Social Security checks, but he’s definitely not a “get-off-my-lawn” senior-citizen caricature.

He’s obviously open to new ideas and more than willing to act as football trailblazer.

For that reason, the NFL would do well to follow Arians’ lead when it comes to its treatment of women.

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