The NFL’s First Female Official
On April 8, 2015, Sarah Thomas was one of nine new game officials added to the National Football League (NFL) officiating roster for the 2015 season, becoming the first full-time female official. Her history-making game was September 13, 2015 between Kansas City and Houston. Her hat, whistle and flag from that game are now on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
She began her football officiating career in 1996 when she attended a meeting for aspiring football officials with her brother, Lea. She worked 10 years in high school, doing as many pee- wee, middle school and junior varsity games as possible. In 2007, she was hired by Conference USA. This was another history-making milestone as Thomas became the first female to officiate for the NCAA’s Major College Football Bowl Division. The hard work allowed her the opportunity to work numerous bowl games, championship games, and All-Star games, giving her exposure to NFL officials who were scouting other officials.
Being hired in 2015 was only the first step. Thomas had just recently completed her sixth season for the NFL as a Down Judge working with Shawn Hochuli’s crew. In early January 2019, it was announced that she would make history again as the first female to officiate a postseason NFL game. Thomas worked the divisional round game between the LA Chargers and New England Patriots on January 13, 2019. To wrap up her 2020 season, Thomas shattered the glass ceiling by being selected to work Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, making her the first female to ever work a Super Bowl. Her Super Bowl LV jersey, hat, whistle and flag are also on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Off the field, Thomas is a Marketing Specialist for Mid-South Rehab, Inc., a public speaker and a skin care consultant for Rodan & Fields. She was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi and is a graduate of the University of Mobile, where she earned a full basketball scholarship and Academic All-American honors. She has had many recognitions throughout her journey including being named Sports Illustrated’s 100 Most Influential NFL Figures of All Time. Thomas is also a mom to three children, Bridley, Brady and Bailey.
Thomas is a 2021 CREW Network Convention keynote speaker.