US women’s soccer star eyes ‘potential’ future career as NFL kicker
PHILADELPHIA — Carli Lloyd has played in soccer World Cup finals. She’s played in Olympic gold medal games. She’s played in domestic cup finals.
But could we see the US women’s soccer star playing in the NFL’s biggest game, the Super Bowl?
A clip of Lloyd kicking a field goal in practice with NFL team Philadelphia Eagles last year went viral on social media, leading to suggestions she could become the first female to compete in the National Football League.
Ahead of in Miami between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Lloyd isn’t ruling out a possible move to the NFL.
“There’s definitely the potential,” Lloyd told CNN. “Obviously, I’m kind of in the thick of things right now and this year with soccer and Olympic qualifying at the present moment, and then going to the Olympics.
Making history appeals, but the 37-year-old Lloyd knows she will face a severe challenge to make it in the NFL.
“I would want to put myself in a position where I’ve kicked several thousand kicks prior to doing this with the right equipment and perhaps some men rushing at me and limited steps,” she said. “But we’ll see what happens. I’m not closing any doors at the moment.”
Changing the game
Lloyd says she is in awe of a person already in the league who is blazing a trail for women.
Katie Sowers — an assistant offensive coach with the 49ers — will become the first woman and openly gay person to coach in a Super Bowl.
The importance of Sowers’ achievements are not lost on two-time World Cup winner Lloyd.
“I think what’s really cool about her and what she said is the players don’t view her as a female coach,” Lloyd explained. “The players view her as their coach. And to me that that’s the way it should be.
“She played football, I saw some highlights of her and it’s so cool to be able to see that and now she’s pursuing something that she’s passionate about and going to the Super Bowl with the team.”
‘The Secret Kicker’
Lloyd and her US teammates know the importance of fighting inequality.
The team filed a lawsuit in March 2019 against the US Soccer Federation in relation to the imbalance between how much the men’s and women’s players are paid. A trial is scheduled for May 2020.
Ahead of the Super Bowl, Lloyd has teamed up with deodorant manufacturer Secret to create a TV advert called “The Secret Kicker” which aims to encourage “females and supporters alike to #KickInequality”.
In the commercial, viewers see a successful kick landed in a high-pressure American football game. The kicker and the holder are then revealed as women — Lloyd and her real-life teammate Crystal Dunn. After a pause, the crowd goes wild in celebration.
“It’s a football ad, but I think it’s more than just that — it’s the bigger picture and it’s getting the conversation started and I was super excited to be part of it,” said Lloyd.
She says there are direct comparisons between the advert, her national team’s lawsuit and the prospect of having a female playing in the NFL.
“We’re obviously doing this with the US women’s national team right now,” she said. “Just trying to push the barrier for equal opportunity. And I think that it’s giving women across the globe the confidence to do the same.
“The (conversation) is being started about a female player in the NFL. There has been zero opportunity. But I think that it’s thinking bold statements like this and starting these conversations to know that women can be just as good, if not better than men.
“And there’s no telling that someone like myself or somebody else wouldn’t be able to kick in the NFL.”