This Woman Just Made NFL History

Sarah Thomas became the first woman to be an on-field official at a playoff game.

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By Nina Zipkin

Al Bello | Getty Images

This Sunday, during the matchup between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Chargers, NFL referee Sarah Thomas became the first woman to be an on-field official at an NFL playoff game. It wasn't the first time that Thomas made football history.

In 2015, she became the first female official hired by the NFL, and before her hiring in 2011, she was the first female official to work in a Big Ten stadium. In 2009, she was the first woman to officiate a college football bowl game, and in 2007, she was the first woman to work at a major college football game.

Before her career as a football official, Thomas, a Mississippi native and married mom of three, was a college basketball star at the University of Mobile.

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At the start of her NFL career, she shared with CBS News how her tenure as a scholar-athlete informed her career.

"Maybe at times when they made a controversial call that I didn't think was right, I voiced my opinion, but I think they would get just as aggravated with me at times, too," Thomas told CBS. "When I started in football officiating, I had no idea the pride and the amount of time that they put into trying to get the game right."

On social media, Jennifer Welter, the NFL's first female assistant coach, congratulated Thomas.

Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

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