Yet another barrier in the NFL will fall with the announcement that Sarah Thomas will be the first woman to officiate an NFL game.
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The NFL has officially announced that veteran football referee Sarah Thomas has been hired by the league as the first female referee in league history.
NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino announced via NFL.com that the league made the move official while releasing the list of first-year referees hired.
“Our incoming officials have all demonstrated that they are among the best in college football,” Blandino said. “We are excited about having them join us.”
Thomas began working high school football in 1999 before making her way through the ranks. Her career milestones include a Rice-Northwestern game in 2011, which marked the first time a female official refereed in a Big Ten stadium. Her appearance in the 2009 Little Caesars Pizza Bowl was the first time a female official worked a college bowl game.
Last year in the NFL, the league broke new ground when the St. Louis Rams drafted Missouri DE Michael Sam, making him the first openly-gay athlete to ever be drafted by a professional sports team. Sam played in several preseason games for the Rams before being released from the team and has yet to make a regular season start in the NFL.
Kevin Codey, Hugo Cruz, Bart Longson, Clay Martin, Aaron Santi, Shawn Smith, Jabir Walker and Walt Coleman IV were among the first-year hires by the NFL.