Thomas earns stripes, gets preseason game

Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports

NFL official trainee Sarah Thomas has worked scrimmages this preseason and will officiate Friday night's Raiders-Saints game in New Orleans.


Sarah Thomas, a college football official who was part of an NFL clinic profiled by espnW in June, was assigned as a line judge in Friday’s NFL preseason game between the Raiders and the Saints in New Orleans.

Thomas currently is in the development pipeline to become the NFL’s first full-time female official, but it wouldn’t happen before the 2014 season.

“She is a finalist in the NFL Officiating Development Program," said NFL spokesperson Michael Signora, “which means she will be one of a small group of officials considered for a spot as a permanent NFL official when there is a vacancy.”

Thomas was identified as a candidate previously, but pregnancy kept her off the field in 2012, the same year the NFL officials lockout occurred. The league hired Shannon Eastin as a replacement official during the lockout, making Eastin the first woman to officiate an NFL game. When the league and officials union agreed to a contract, Eastin’s tenure ended.

Thomas will return to officiating college football this season, with Conference USA.