Sarah Thomas 1st full-time female NFL official
NEW YORK (AP) — Sarah Thomas is among 10 new officials joining the NFL’s crews this season.
NFL officiating director Dean Blandino said Friday that Thomas will work as a line judge with veteran referee Pete Morelli. Thomas already had been announced as the first woman hired by the league as a full-time, on-field official.
Thomas was in the league’s officiating development program in 2013 and ’14 and has worked at minicamps, training camps and exhibition games. She has officiated for Conference USA since 2007, with assignments including the Senior Bowl, the Pizza Bowl, the Fight Hunger Bowl, the Medal of Honor Bowl, and the league championship game in 2010 and ’14.
Thomas officiated two seasons in the United Football League, which is now out of business.
“If you look at Sarah’s background and her journey to get here, this is not something that happened overnight,” Blandino said when Thomas was hired in April. “She’s been officiating 20 years and been on our radar screen for eight to nine years.”
Another addition is side judge Walt Coleman IV, whose father Walt is a referee and the longest-tenured official in the league. The elder Coleman enters his 27th season. The younger Coleman is on Jerome Boger’s crew.
There currently are three father-son combinations among NFL officials: referee Ed Hochuli and son Shawn, a back judge; and Steve Freeman (back judge) and son Brad (field judge).
Former referee Bill Leavy has joined the supervisory staff. John Hussey moves from line judge to referee. Hussey has worked nine playoff games and one Super Bowl.
“John Hussey has proven to be an outstanding official and we expect that to continue as he moves to the referee position,” Blandino said.
Leavy spent 20 seasons on the field.
The league will have three swing officials who will work with different crews throughout the season, and 122 officials in all: 17 crews of seven, plus the swing officials.
The other new officials are line judges Kevin Codey and Bart Longson; side judge Jonah Monroe; umpires Shawn Smith and Clay Martin; head linesman Hugo Cruz; and field judges Aaron Santi and Jabir Walker.
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