The NFL will be making history with the first-ever woman to officiate in a Super Bowl. The woman is Sarah Thomas, who will be the down judge at Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7.
For reference, the first Super Bowl was on January 15 in 1967. There has not been a single female referee in any Super Bowl matchup in those 55 years.
Carl Cheffers will be the head referee who has a seven-person crew of other game officials.
“Their body of work over the course of a 17-game season has earned them the honor of officiating the biggest game on the world’s biggest stage. They are the best of the best,” Troy Vincent, NFL EVP of football operations said, according to the NFL’s official site.
This is Cheffer’s 21st season as an NFL official and his second Super Bowl.
“Sarah Thomas has made history again as the first female Super Bowl official. Her elite performance and commitment to excellence has earned her the right to officiate the Super Bowl. Congratulations to Sarah on this well-deserved honor,” Vincent said.
Thomas was also working as part of the crew for the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers playoff game on January 13, 2019. This is her only experience as an official in a postseason game, though.
Other crew members include Fred Bryan, James Coleman, and Dino Paganelli.
Sarah Thomas Responds
Last year, Thomas was getting recognition for being the first woman to officiate a NFL playoff game.
In an interview on “NFL Total Access” Thomas talked about her role as an official and her career so far.
“There are still those who identify me as a female official. A lot of them are young females or female executives or employees … as far as my peers and those that are on the field, coaches, players, no, they see me as an official. That’s exactly what I want,” Thomas said.
“Every time I get to walk through that tunnel I say there’s a flip of the switch and that is a huge adrenaline rush,” she said.
At the time, she hadn’t been selected for the Super Bowl that season. However, she did talk about wanting to work a Super Bowl in the future and how she wanted to get there in general. For her, it’s all about working hard and doing her job to the best of her ability.
“Every game I want to be at the top of my game. If that puts me at No. 1 to work a Super Bowl, I want to earn it,” Thomas said.
Other Landmark Women in Football
Additionally, the game against the Washington Football Team and the Cleveland Browns was the first game with three women on the field, according to CBS News.
This included Callie Brownson, the chief of staff for the Browns and Jennifer King as the NFL’s first Black female full-time assistant coach. Thomas was also there as the first full-time referee in the league.
In college football, Sarah Fuller recently made history for being the first female to score points in the power five.
Now, she has also been invited to participate in the inauguration of Joe Biden tomorrow. She will be a part of a group of Americans that has “stepped up in their communities.” This includes Anthony Gaskin, Cavanaugh Bell, Mackenzie Adams, and others.
A number of people, including Hillary Clinton and Billie Jean King, reached out to her regarding the historical moment.
She responded to the honor of being a part of the inauguration special by saying, “It’s an honor to be invited to participate in one of America’s greatest traditions. This historic inauguration is especially meaningful for American women and girls. The glass ceilings are breaking and it is the time to #LeadLikeAWoman. “