In 2019, female NFL fandom hit an all-time high with women making up 47% of the league's fanbase.
With March being women's history month, Jane Skinner Goodell, wife to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, joined Hayley Elwood on Playmakers to discuss why numbers like that are on the rise, why more women are tuning into the game than ever before, and more:
On Female Fans Making Up 47% of the NFL's Fanbase
"I'm so happy the numbers finally show what the trend, I feel like, has been for so long. I grew up going to Soldier Field in Chicago as a kid with my older brothers and my dad. We had season tickets starting in 1972 (and) you can imagine what a stadium looked like. As an eight or 10-year-old girl, I was an anomaly. It's just been so much fun to watch it over the years, just how the base of fans has changed.... People are understanding that (women) are really really intense true, passionate fans who understand the game and are going on their own oftentimes.
Roger and I have twin girls. Though I grew up a Bears fan, we somehow have a Seahawks fan and a Vikings fan. So when those two teams played each other this past season, we were with (our daughters at the game) and I turned to Roger and said, 'Can you just look around for just one moment?' Behind us was a group of five women who were there for girls' night out. In front of us was a woman who I think was a grandmother and there with some family members. There were little girls, dads and girls, moms and girls, sons, too. But the majority of our section was female. I turned to (Roger) and said, 'Just take this in for a second.' And he looked at me and said, 'You think I don't know this? I live with this! I live with the three of you and I see this all the time. This does not surprise me that our section would be majority female.' It's so much fun to be part of."
On if Female Viewership Up 5% from 2018 to 2019 was Surprising
"To me, it says first of all, how amazing was the season? Football is just so good. You're watching the next generation and history being made and all that kind of stuff. So anybody who loves football, this was the season that…every week, it just got better and better. I also think part of it, the businesses involved (and) the league and the people who make consumer products, I think groups are starting to understand the depth and passion of female football fans and what they're looking for."
On How More Women Working in Football Benefits Teams and the League Overall
"The pipeline (for women) can't just start at the NFL, it has to start a little earlier. At Dartmouth College, Buddy Teevens is the head coach there, Jen King (a Redskins 2020 full-year coaching intern) worked for him before she went to work for the Redskins. He's somebody who very clearly says he loves to hear other people's perspectives and people who haven't necessarily come from a traditional pipeline. Jen King was a police officer for four years. She did different jobs and just always had this passion for football (with a) very smart football mind. I'd love to have that. I think at the end of the day, (teams) all want to win, and they're thrilled if that means they're bringing on someone who can help them win…. Women who are doing this now will tell you, 'Once (players/coaches) get over the fact that I'm a woman in the room, it takes them a little while, but once they get over that and see me as a (coach or athletic trainer or other role), we'll fly from there.'"
Goodell also was the executive producer of the documentary film "A Lifetime of Sundays," which focuses on the four female owners in the NFL. On Playmakers, she discusses the genesis of it and what she learned. While the film was originally on ESPN+, it is now available to watch on Fox Nation.