Maybe the NFL really has turned over a new leaf. The league is reportedly about to hire its first female regular season official.
According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, the NFL has selected Sarah Thomas to take the field as referee in the upcoming football season. However, Michael Signora, VP of communication for the league, told msnbc in a statement, “The 2015 roster of officials has not yet been finalized. “
If Thomas is ultimately hired it may be the culmination of a very public effort on the part of the NFL to redeem its image in the aftermath of a season largely overshadowed by allegations of domestic violence against past and current players.
According to NBC Sports, Thomas has long been considered for this role, having previously officiated Conference-USA and minicap games in recent years. She was also the first woman to ever ref a NCAA football game back in 2007.
Thomas is also the first woman to officiate on an NFL practice field, but she will not be the first female NFL referee. Shannon Eastin joined an officiating crew for one game during a lockout last season when replacement referees were brought in. Still, if the report is true, Thomas would break ground as the first full regular season female official.
“Being raised with brothers I’m just one of the guys, I guess,” she told Cleveland.com last year. “I don’t try to be one of the guys. I am a female, but I don’t look at myself as just a female. I look at myself as an official. With their respect and the respect that I have for them, it just doesn’t feel like it’s a male-dominated profession.”
Thomas, a Mississippi native, is a mother of three and has previously worked as a pharmaceutical sales representative.