Dr. Jen Welter made history in July when she was hired by the Arizona Cardinals, becoming was is believed to be the first woman to coach for an NFL team.
Breaking such a long-standing barrier served as necessary training for Welker, who has been under siege for her decision to accompany undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather to the ring Saturday for his welterweight title bout against Andre Berto.
Many have lined up to assail the decision by Welter, pointing to Mayweather's lengthy history of domestic violence toward women that included a two-month jail term in 2012. Welter, who holds a doctorate in psychology, bristles at the criticism while acknowledging she is the one "taking the punches" for her choice.
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"This was a tough decision. I'm not going in liking his past," Welter said in an interview with 12 News in Arizona. "What I'm going is believing he can be somebody different in the future because if I slam the door on him ... if I close that, if he reaches out to me and I say, 'No way, I'm not doing it,' who can he reach out to then?"
Welter, who was hired as an intern with the Cardinals to coach the team's inside linebackers, also dismissed the notion that Mayweather offered the invitation as a publicity stunt and is taking advantage of her presence.
"You can only be used if you allow yourself to be used and I am not allowing Floyd Mayweather to use me," Welter said. "I think it's a beautiful thing that this dicussion surrounding this fight is highlighting the need to look at domestic violence in our country. And it's only doing that because people are mad I'm going to the fight."
Welter admitted she doesn't know if she can have any impact on Mayweather, but she is adamant about what the consequences would be if she declined the boxer's invitation.
"If I would have thrown that back in his face, and he had questions about women in the past, well, I certainly guarantee you he would not have any more respect for women," she said. "There's a lot of anger there. He has a tough past. His childhood was not pretty.
"If he doesn't channel that in the right direction, things are not going get better, they're only going to get worse. But if everybody just writes him off for his past, then are we ever giving anybody in this country a chance at redemption?"