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For the First Time, a Woman Will Officiate an NFL Playoff Game

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This weekend, Sarah Thomas will become the first woman to officiate an NFL playoff game.  She's on the crew that's working Sunday's divisional game between the L.A. Chargers and the New England Patriots.

 

 

Of course, Sarah isn't new.  The NFL hired her back in 2015.  She was the league's first full-time female official . . . and before that she was the first woman to officiate a major college football game.

 

 

For what it's worth, Sarah will have more responsibility than just checking the inflation of Tom Brady's balls.

 

 

She's the 'Down Judge,' which is just under the Head Referee and Umpire.  Down judges manage the chains, set the line of scrimmage, mark the spot where the play ends, and make line-of-scrimmage calls like false starts and offsides.

 

 

Sarah was just promoted to Down Judge last season.  She previously served as a 'Line Judge.'

 

 

Interesting Fact:  The Down Judge was previously called the Head Linesman.  The NFL's officiating director says it was changed in 2017 to be gender neutral . . . but it wasn't directly because of Sarah.  He said they'd decided on making the change BEFORE she was promoted.

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