TEMPE, Ariz. – The NFL made history Wednesday when it announced Sarah Thomas would become one of nine new officials for the upcoming season.
Thomas will be the first full-time female official in league history. In 2012, Shannon Eastin was a line judge for the first three games of the season during the referee lockout.
While hiring a woman was a major step for the NFL, more women being involved in pro football might not be such a rare occurrence in the future. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said during the NFL owners meetings he could see a woman coaching at some point.
“Someone asked me yesterday, ‘When are we going to have female coaches?’” Arians said. “The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they’ll be hired.”
That was the case with Becky Hammon, the former WNBA star who was hired as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs in August. There are a handful of female coaches in high school football, but none in the NFL ranks.
Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd tweeted that he's looking forward to meeting Thomas during a game.
Congrats Sarah Thomas on being the first woman ref in the league. We welcome you!!! Can't wait to meet you on the field. #NFL— MichaelFloyd (@MichaelMFloyd) April 8, 2015