This Super Bowl Has an On-Field First

Sarah Thomas will be the first female referee in championship game
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2021 11:28 AM CST
Female Referee Will Make Super Bowl History
Down judge Sarah Thomas is shown before an NFL game between the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Football Team in Cleveland, on Sept. 27, 2020.   (AP Photo/David Richard, File)

For the first time in Super Bowl history, a female referee will take to the field. Sarah Thomas, the NFL's first full-time female referee, will be one of eight officials overseeing Super Bowl LV this Sunday as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take on the Kansas City Chiefs, NPR reports. The Chiefs also played in Thomas' first NFL game. "I never set out to be the first," Thomas says in an NFL video, noting her daughter has said she wants to grow up to be a referee just like her mom. But "it's just so meaningful … knowing the impact that I'm having on not just my daughter but young girls everywhere, women everywhere," she says. "I'm probably going to get a little teary-eyed." Troy Vincent, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, credits "her elite performance and commitment to excellence."

Thomas, a Mississippi-born referee who's worked four postseason games since joining the league in 2015, will serve as down judge monitoring the line of scrimmage, per WDAF. We're seeing more and more women officiating at the highest level of men's sports, per NPR, which reports two of three officials of a Jan. 25 NBA game between the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets were women "for the first time ever." History will be made Sunday in other ways. The game will mark the first time a team has played at home in a Super Bowl, according to Guinness World Records. Tom Brady is also set to become the oldest player to play in a Super Bowl at age 43 years and 189 days, while Tampa coach Bruce Arians will become the oldest head coach in a Super Bowl at age 68 years and 127 days. (An all-Black referee crew just made NFL history.)

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