Sarah Thomas is an American football official and is currently an official for the National Football League (NFL).
In 2007, Thomas became the first woman to officiate a major college football game, working a game between two different states.
Before that game, another official said, “She came highly recommended by two NFL scouts. She has a good presence and demeanor. I feel like she has the ability and courage to make a call, and the guts to not make one, too.”
Thomas was the first woman to officiate a major college football game, the first to officiate a bowl game, and the first to officiate in a Big Ten stadium. On April 8, 2015, Thomas was hired as the first full-time female official in NFL history, and for the 2018 NFL season, she is on the officiating crew headed by referee Ronald Torbert.
She was originally assigned officiating uniform number 153, but currently Thomas is a down judge with the NFL officiating uniform number 53, worn in past seasons by umpire Garth DeFelice, line judge Bill Reynolds, and field judge Frank Kirkland.
In January 2019, Sarah Thomas was part of the crew officiating the Patriots-Chargers AFC playoff game Sunday, making her the first woman to officiate in the postseason.
Thomas, is now in her fourth season as an official, At the time of her appointment to the NFL in 2015, Thomas, a native of Mississippi, said she “was speechless” when an NFL official called her and offered her the job. She said she was honored to be considered a “trail blazer” for female officials. But she stressed that her focus was on “being the best official I can be.”
“I’ve just been doing this truly because I love it,” she said. “The guys don’t think of me as a female, they see me as just another official.”
Thomas had previously officiated at NFL camps and practices, She also reffed basketball and high school football before moving on to college.