Monday, March 8, 2021

Super Bowl Official Sarah Thomas Will Make History at Big Game

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Sarah Thomas will make NFL history once again.

The Mississippi native will become the first woman to ever officiate a Super Bowl when she appears at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay for the 55th championship game on Sunday.

Wearing a number 53 striped shirt, Thomas will be one of the seven crew members officiating Super Bowl LV along with Fred Bryan, Rusty Baynes, Eugene Hall, Dino Paganelli, James Coleman and referee Carl Cheffers, who will lead the crew for his 21st consecutive Super Bowl game.

Speaking in a video for the NFL, Thomas said she was “honored and humbled” to be the first woman official at the Super Bowl.

“Being selected for this year’s Super Bowl in Tampa, it means a lot to me,” Thomas said. “I have a precious little girl that is watching her mom not just on a football field but daily at home. And I just spoke with her this morning actually and she had a neat little test that she had to take. And she said, ‘Mom, they asked what I wanted to do in the future and I told them I wanted to be a mom, a teacher and a ref just like my mom.’ It’s just so meaningful.”

“I never set out to be the first in any of this, but knowing the impact that I’m having on not just my daughter but young girls everywhere, women everywhere—when I get on that field and I take it all in, I know that I might get a little teary-eyed. This is remarkable.”

Super Bowl Official Sarah Thomas Makes History
Line judge Sarah Thomas #53 in the second half during their game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tennessee Titans at Bank of America Stadium on November 03, 2019, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Thomas first made history when she became the first woman to ever earn a full-time position as an NFL official in 2015. Four years later, she became the first woman to serve as an on-field official during the Divisional Round playoff game between the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers.

Before joining the NFL as an official, the University of Mobile alum officiated youth and high school football games. She caught the eyes of league professionals when she officiated a high school state championship game in Mississippi. Afterwards, Gerry Austin, an NFL ref and Conference USA’s supervisor of officials, contacted Thomas for a position as a college football official, according to Pro Football Network.

In 2007, Thomas served a crew member for a game between the University of Memphis and Jacksonville State University. By 2009, she was assigned to a crew full time.

Since joining the NFL as an official, Thomas has worked four postseason games within six football seasons, according to ESPN.

In a statement, Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, credited Thomas’ commitment to the game and her skills as an official for her historical feat.

“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,” he said.

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