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Business, Media and Culture 2019

Mississippi's Top 50 Most Influential

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Sarah Thomas, National Football League Official

Sarah Thomas may look like a southern belle, but on the football field, she’s all business.  And just recently in 2019, she became the first woman to ever officiate in an NFL playoff game.

In 2015, Sarah Thomas was one of nine new game officials added to the NFL officiating roster for the 2015 season, becoming the first-full time female official in NFL history. Her history making game happened on September 13, 2015 between Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. Her hat, whistle and flag from that game are now on display at the NFL Football Hall of Fame.

She began her football officiating career in the 1996 when she attended a meeting for aspiring football officials with her brother, Lea. She worked 10 years in high school, doing as many pee-wee, middle school, and junior varsity games she could possibly do. In 2007, she was hired by Conference USA, and this was another history making milestone becoming the first female to officiate for the NCAA’s Major College Football Bowl Division. The hard work allowed her the opportunity to work numerous bowl games, championship games and All-Star games, giving her exposure to NFL officials scouting other officials.

Being hired in 2015, was only the first step. Sarah just recently completed her 4th season for the NFL as a Down Judge working with Ron Torbert’s crew.

Off the field, Thomas is Area Sales Director for Kare-In-Home Hospice, and a skin care consultant for Rodan & Fields. She was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi and is a graduate of the University of Mobile after earning a full scholarship as a basketball player, and Academic All-American honors. She has been a national spokesperson for Activia yogurt, appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, featured in Good Housekeeping, The New York Times and even named ABC’s World New Tonight’s Person of the Week in January 2017.