From “Head Linesman” to “Down Judge”: How Sarah Thomas is Changing American Football

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From “Head Linesman” to “Down Judge”: How Sarah Thomas is Changing American Football

Jacey Brown, Writer

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Sarah Thomas: sales representative, NFL referee, mother-of-three, and woman of many firsts.

This was the woman that was introduced to the nation in the San Diego Chargers-New England Patriots game this past Sunday, January 13th. Standing on the 100-yard field as a Down Judge, Thomas became the first woman to officiate an NFL playoff game in the organization’s history.

Thomas, who spent the game with responsibilities such as looking out for offside and encroachment penalties, monitoring the nearest receiver for seven yards, and marking the forward progress for the runner, says while she is happy with the positive response from football fans of all genders, she didn’t initially see it as a way of becoming a role model.

“The guys don’t think of me as a female, they see me as just another official,” she told CNN with a shrug.

Still, Thomas can be seen as a beacon of hope for little girls with passions for football across the United States. Before this first, she was the first woman to officiate a major college football game, then the first woman to officiate in a Big Ten stadium. In 2015, she became one of the first female referees in NFL history.

Her job marks a distinct line of progress when it comes to women’s rights and the beloved game of the country. The Senior VP of NFL officiating has even changed the title of the position she held from “Head Linesman” to “Down Judge”: a true sign of the times.

The Patriots won 41-28, but the real win on Sunday afternoon football this week went to women and girls around the nation.

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