NFL Official Sarah Thomas Will Make History at Super Bowl LV

Thomas will become the first female referee to work a Super Bowl

NFL referee Sarah Thomas
NFL line judge Sarah Thomas looks on before a game between the Lions and Jaguars.
James Gilbert/Getty Images

Whether Tom Brady wins his seventh Super Bowl title or Patrick Mahomes gets his second in a row, history is going to be made at Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay on Sunday evening … by NFL official Sarah Thomas.

Thomas will serve as the down judge in the seven-person refereeing crew on the field in Tampa, making her the first woman ever to officiate in a Super Bowl. 

“Being selected for this year’s Super Bowl in Tampa, it means a lot to me,” the 47-year-old told the NFL Network. “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’m probably gonna get a little teary-eyed.”

The promotion to the big game for Thomas comes five years after she became the first female official in the NFL. She has previously refereed four lower-tier playoff games.

“Sarah Thomas has made history again as the first female Super Bowl official,” NFL executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent said in an announcement about the officiating crew. “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.”

Thomas will actually be one of several women who will make history this weekend in Tampa Bay.

“They have earned this, they deserve this, and they should be excited,” Amy Trask, a longtime executive for the Oakland Raiders told USA Today Sports in reference to the women making history this weekend. “But won’t it be exciting for all of us when people are hired without regard to race, gender or any other individuality which has no bearing whatsoever on whether one can do a job?”

In another Super Bowl first, both teams’ offensive coordinators — Kansas City’s Eric Bieniemy and Tampa Bay’s Byron Leftwich — are Black.

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