Sarah Thomas is expected to be announced as the NFL’s first permanent female game official, sources have confirmed.
Thomas has previously officiated college games, as well as preseason and training camps. Having officiated the college football game between Memphis and Jacksonville State in 2007, Thomas became the first female to officiate a college game.
The First Lady
If the announcement goes through as expected, Thomas will be the NFL’s first permanent female official. In 2012, during the officiating lockout, Shannon Eastin became the first female to officiate an NFL match as a replacement referee in the game between St Louis Rams and the Detroit Lions.
"I set out to do this and get involved in officiating not having any idea that there were not any females officiating football," Thomas told NFL Network in 2014, according to Fox Sports. "Being a former basketball player, you saw female officiating all the time. So, no, I don't feel like a pioneer."
NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino said that Thomas had been on their radar for some time and that she was on a shortlist to become an official two years ago but didn’t make the cut.
Speed of the step-up
Blandino said in 2013, “It's similar from when a players jumps from college to the NFL, getting used to that type of speed is important.”
Thomas agreed with Blandino’s statement adding that because of the level and quality there is no room for error, “These are just phenomenal athletes on both sides of the ball. The game has a tendency to slow down the most snaps you get and repetition. So, hopefully, the more snaps I get, things will start slowing down a little bit.”
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