The NFL announced on Wednesday the hiring of Sarah Thomas as the league’s first full-time female game official. The 41-year-old got the nod for the 2015 season as a line judge after participating in the league’s development program for officials each of the last two years. In 2007, Thomas became the first woman to officiate college football games.
Thomas, a former college basketball player, who works as a pharmaceutical sales rep, rose through the officiating ranks after getting her start working high school football games in Mississippi. “Thomas received an endorsement from Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh on Wednesday,” ESPN reports. “ ‘We had her in the preseason last year. She did a good job. She might be one of the better ones we’ve had. So, it’s about time,’ Harbaugh said.” In 2012, Shannon Eastin became the first female official to work an NFL game as a replacement official during a labor dispute with the officials that lasted three games.