The NFL has reportedly hired Sarah Thomas, who's now set to become the first full-time female official to work regular-season games for the league. The league announced the hire, along with eight other first-time officials, on April 8.
Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun first passed along the news:
Aaron Wilson @AaronWilson_NFL
Hearing the NFL has hired its first female official, Sarah Thomas, a ground-breaking move. Mississippi native was a finalist previously4/3/2015, 12:35:06 PM
ProPlayerInsiders passed along some of Thomas' comments on April 8:
Sarah Thomas: The call came on Thurs April 2 and when I looked at my phone I prayed it was Dean Blandino calling4/8/2015, 6:07:14 PM
Sarah Thomas: It's an honor and a humbling experience and I just appreciate getting the call4/8/2015, 6:07:40 PM
Sarah Thomas says everyone has looked at her very professionally and she has not experienced any negative experiences in the program4/8/2015, 6:13:54 PM
Tom Reed of the Northeast Ohio Media Group noted last June that Thomas had joined the NFL's development program for new officials in 2013. That led to training camp assignments to get acclimated to the rules and environment.
Reed also provided comments from Thomas about her goal of simply being viewed as an official.
"Being raised with brothers I'm just one of the guys, I guess," she said. "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."
Wilson added, per Herald Net, “She has the right temperament and attitude and feel for the game,” an officiating source told The Baltimore Sun. “She knows the rules and understands how to apply them in the spirit of the rules. That sets her apart, male or female.”
Now she will get an opportunity to apply her trade at the highest level of football. Though the progress toward getting more women involved may have been a bit sluggish, it's still a key turning point and one that should open the door for others to follow in her footsteps.
Ultimately, it's a step in the right direction for the NFL.