TAMPA, Fla. — When the officiating crew takes the field at Raymond James Stadium on Feb. 7, one member will be making history.
Down Judge Sarah Thomas will become the first woman ever to officiate a Super Bowl.
Thomas is accustomed to being a trailblazer. She was the first woman to officiate a major college football game. And, in 2015, she became the first full-time female official in the NFL.
“Her elite performance and commitment to excellence has earned her the right to officiate the Super Bowl," NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent, Sr. wrote in a statement. "Congratulations to Sarah on this well-deserved honor.”
Thomas is grateful for the opportunity on both a personal and professional level as she says it also helps show her daughter that you can do anything you see and believe in.
"This is remarkable and I am truly honored and humbled to be a part of this year's Super Bowl crew," she said
And Thomas also has a message to other women looking to break into the field-- do it. The history-making official noted that while the road to success will not be easy, it is worth it.
"Nothing in life is easy and there's no shortcut to a place worth going," Thomas said.
Referee Carl Cheffers will lead the seven-person officiating crew for Super Bowl LV in Tampa.
Cheffers is in his 21st season with the NFL and has officiated 17 playoff games, including a previous Super Bowl. Together, the on-field officiating crew will have 88 years of NFL officiating experience, including 77 combined post-season game assignments.
The Super Bowl LV officiating crew will be as follows:
- Carl Cheffers - Referee
- Fred Bryan - Umpire
- Sarah Thomas - Down Judge
- Rusty Baynes - Line Judge
- James Coleman - Field Judge
- Eugene Hall - Side Judge
- Dino Paganelli - Back Judge
- Mike Wimmer - Replay Official
Thomas' historic feat is just the latest to happen within the confines of Raymond James Stadium. Earlier this season, the NFL had its first-ever all-Black officiating crew work a nationally televised Monday Night Football game between the Buccaneers and Rams in Tampa.
“This historic Week 11 crew is a testament to the countless and immeasurable contributions of Black officials to the game, their exemplary performance, and to the power of inclusion that is the hallmark of this great game,” Vincent said in a statement at the time provided to USA Today and ESPN.
Kickoff for the Super Bowl is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 7, 2021. CBS will be broadcasting the game, which you can watch live locally on 10 Tampa Bay.
Listen to the Tampa Bay 55 podcast for behind-the-scenes content as the Bay area prepares to host the big game.
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