Some history will be made at this year’s Super Bowl. Sarah Thomas has been named as the down judge for Super Bowl LV and will become the first woman to officiate in a Super Bowl.
The #SBLV crew:
• Carl Cheffers (R)
• Fred Bryan (U)
• Sarah Thomas (DJ)
• Rusty Baynes (LJ)
• James Coleman (FJ)
• Eugene Hall (SJ)
• Dino Paganelli (BJ)
• Mike Wimmer (RO)
— NFL Officiating (@NFLOfficiating) January 19, 2021
Officiating in a Super Bowl is a huge honor for referees. Just like players, referees work all season to try and make it to the big game. And as the playoffs come around and the NFL needs fewer and fewer crews, those who have had the highest grades all season keep working throughout the postseason. Ultimately, the best of the best make it to the Super Bowl.
Carl Cheffers will be the referee and this will be his second Super Bowl as referee. An NFL referee since 2000, Cheffers was in charge of Super Bowl LI, where the Patriots defeated the Falcons in overtime. Six of the eight officials have Super Bowl experience and Eugene Hall, the side judge from Cheffers’ crew, will take part in this year’s game as well.
For Thomas, she will be in her first Super Bowl in her first year of eligibility. As a down judge, Thomas will be the official looking at the line of scrimmage to note any line violations like offsides or false starts. While she has only been an NFL official for six years, Thomas has had a decorated résumé as an official even before joining the NFL. In college, Thomas was the first woman to work a Football Bowl Subdivision game and worked her way up to doing Big Ten and bowl games.
Once in the NFL, Thomas became the first woman to be a full-time official and earlier this season made history with Cleveland’s Callie Brownson and Washington’s Jennifer King. That Washington-Cleveland Week 3 game was the first time a woman was on the coaching staff on both teams and a woman was part of the officiating crew.