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Sarah Thomas

“Breaking Through: My Journey to Becoming the First Female NFL Official”


On April 8, 2015, Sarah Thomas was added to the NFL officiating roster for the 2015 season, making her the first full-time female official for the NFL. Her history-making game happened on September 13, 2015, between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. Her hat, whistle, and flag from that game are now on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  

Thomas began her football officiating career in 1996 when she attended a meeting for aspiring football officials. For the next 10 years, she officiated many peewee, middle school, and junior varsity games. In 2007, she was hired by Conference USA—another history-making milestone, as Thomas became the first female to officiate for the NCAA Division I Football Subdivision.

In early January 2019, it was announced that Thomas would make history yet again as the first female to officiate a postseason NFL game. She worked the divisional-round game between the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots on January 13, 2019. She reached the pinnacle during the 2020 season when she was selected to work Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, making her the first female to ever work a Super Bowl.  

Off the field, Thomas is a marketing specialist for Mid-South Rehab Inc., a national speaker for Keppler Speakers Bureau, and a skin-care consultant for Rodan & Fields. She is a graduate of the University of Mobile and holds many national recognitions for her accomplishments throughout her journey, including being named one of Sports Illustrated’s 100 Most Influential Figures of All Time. 

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Sarah Thomas headshot