Sarah Thomas Becomes First Female to Referee a Super Bowl

Down judge Sarah Thomas (53) arrives before the NFL Super Bowl 55 football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

NFL referee Sarah Thomas has a lot of firsts under her belt. First full-time female on-field official, first female to referee a playoff game, and on Sunday, the first female to referee a Super Bowl.

“I have been an official for almost 20 years,” Thomas said. “This hasn’t been an overnight sensation or a year.”

Thomas made her on-field referee debut as line judge in 2015 in a matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and the Kansas City Chiefs. In 2019, Thomas became the first female to referee a playoff game as the Patriots faced the Chargers. And, as the Chiefs battle the Buccaneers at Super Bowl LV on Sunday, Thomas became the first female to referee the top NFL game.

First lady Jill Biden tweeted her excitement about the achievement Sunday. “I’m cheering you on today, Sarah Thomas,” Biden wrote:

“Her elite performance and commitment to excellence has earned her the right to officiate the Super Bowl,” NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations said after Thomas was named to the Super Bowl officiating crew last month.

Fellow female of firsts Sarah Fuller, who made history as the first female to play in a Power 5 college football game, tweeted a photo of herself Sunday to celebrate Thomas’s occasion. “Smile because it’s Super Bowl Sunday and an incredible Woman is making history today! #SarahThomas #SuperBowl #breakingglassceilings #HERstory #LeadLikeAWoman,” the Vanderbilt kicker wrote:


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