According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, the NFL has signed the first female official, Sarah Thomas. Prior to being signed by the NFL, Thomas has been officiating at various levels of the sport for several years. She has been working Conference USA college games since 2007, was the first woman ever to officiate a college bowl game in 2009 and has been a participant in the NFL’s referee development program since 2013.
Hearing the NFL has hired its first female official, Sarah Thomas, a ground-breaking move. Mississippi native was a finalist previously
— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) April 3, 2015
Thomas has officiated NFL camps and preseason games as part of the program and has earned good enough grades to be considered for a spot on an officiating crew during the regular season.
While Thomas will be the first woman to hold a full-time officiating position in the NFL, she won’t be the first woman on an NFL field. Shannon Eastin worked a game during the replacement-ref era at the beginning of the 2011 season.
Sports Interaction’s NFL Football Futures Betting The NFL has worked to deal with a high rate of turnover among full-time referees in the past few years while trying to improve performance among current referees. Several full-time referees have held their positions in the NFL for decades, making the addition of new officials welcome. The addition of Thomas is a big stepping stone for the NFL, who could benefit from letting go of it’s old and outdated ways.