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Sarah Thomas “honored and blessed” to be an NFL official

The NFL formally introduced Sarah Thomas as its first female full-time official today, and Thomas told reporters that she views her appointment as simply the next step in a long officiating career.

“I did not set out to become an NFL official, but the further along I went in the progression, in Conference USA, part of me thought it might be a reality,” Thomas said. “You work every game and hope to be asked back to work the next one. . . . My goal has always been to be the best line judge I can be any time I can get the opportunity . . . just to be the best official I can be, and I feel honored and blessed to be in the National Football League now.”

Thomas said she was a competitive athlete growing up but never thought she’d be an official. It was only after she stopped playing sports that she decided to go into officiating, and after several years she heard from NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino.

“When I was playing sports it never entered my mind, but once I got into the high school associations and then into college, the competitive side of me didn’t want to stop there. Fortunately enough, I got a call from Dean,” she said.

Thomas said she doesn’t think she’ll be treated differently from male officials. She did note that she has typically tucked her long hair into her cap so that she won’t stand out from other officials, something that was suggested to her by longtime NFL official Gerry Austin, who was her boss as the director of officials in Conference USA. Thomas added that Austin “also asked me not to wear any makeup, but I told him he was crossing the line there.”

Thomas said “it’s just the mindset of an official that you don’t want to be seen or noticed.” As the first female official, she’ll be noticed at first. But if she does her job well, she’ll quickly blend in.