2015 IMPACT25 Influencer: Sarah Thomas
"My goal is to just be the best I can be every time I'm given the opportunity to work. I know it sounds so cliché, but it's the just the mind-set of officials." -- Sarah Thomas
Jersey No. 58 made its first official appearance in September, when the Kansas City Chiefs played the Houston Texans. The jersey wasn't worn by a kicker or linebacker, though, it was of the black-and-white striped variety and belonged to Sarah Thomas, who was named the NFL's first full-time female official this year.
Thomas, who started with grade-school games in 1999 and worked her way up the ref ranks, has continuously displayed the focused calm necessary for objective calls, not to mention deflecting angry coach and crowd reactions. (Oh, and between Sundays, she's a pharmaceutical rep for Novo Nordisk and a mother of three.)
In October, during a pressure-cooker Monday-night game between the Steelers and Chargers, the ball was spotted on the 1-yard line with five seconds to go. The next play was an absolute mess, but Thomas confidently (and correctly) called a TD.
Post-game, former head of NFL officials Mike Pereira toasted her on Twitter.
More On Sarah Thomas
• 'There's no male-female, it's just striped shirts' Story »
• Meet the NFL's first female official Story »
• Welter, Thomas making milestones Video »
The IMPACT25 is espnW's annual list of the 25 athletes and influencers who have made the greatest impact for women in sports. Explore the 2015 list at espnW.com/IMPACT25.