Before the players have even stepped foot on the field for Sunday’s Super Bowl LV, referee Sarah Thomas has already made it a record-setting game.
Thomas will serve as a down judge on Carl Cheffers' team of referees, becoming the world’s first woman to officiate a Super Bowl, breaking barriers for women in sports and setting a record within the NFL.
She is the only woman amongst an eight-person team consisting of Cheffers, Fred Bryan, Rusty Baynes, James Coleman, Eugene Hall, Dino Paganelli, and Mike Wimmer.
The Mississippi-born official is more than qualified to help oversee the showdown between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida this weekend, especially with her decades of professional experience.
She began her career in 1996 and has refereed her way through college games and Bowl games, until she became one of 21 other candidates being considered for the open NFL officiant position in 2013.
Two years later, the NFL announced that Thomas was the first permanent female official in NFL history.
Thomas has proven she has a passionate dedication to the game after working a total of four postseason games in six seasons with the league.
The prominent referee has even worked under extenuating circumstances. In fact, after experiencing a mid-game collision on the sideline of a Vikings-Packers game in 2016, she returned to the game after a check by medics for head injuries and finished refereeing despite having a broken wrist!
Now, her achievements have seemingly come full circle, as her first debut game within the NFL was also with the Chiefs.
Many are excited to see her in the stadium this weekend, including NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent, who told press:
The record-holding officiant is now looking forward to what her title will mean for women everywhere, including her own family.
“Being selected for this year’s Super Bowl in Tampa, it means a lot to me. I have a precious little girl who is watching her mom not just on a football field, but daily at home," said Thomas.
Among Thomas’ noteworthy accomplishments, the game will also set the stage for other records on the field.
Multi-record holder and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Tom Brady will up his current record for most Super Bowl appearances by a quarterback to 10 as he leads his new team on the pitch against the Chiefs.
He is also set to become the oldest player to play in a Super Bowl at the age of 43 years and 189 days.
If he leads his team to victory, he will earn the titles for most Super Bowl wins by an individual player, and oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl.
In addition, one coach in particular will break a record at this year’s game.
With two Super Bowl wins under his belt, Brady’s coach, Bruce Arians will also become the world’s oldest head coach to make a Super Bowl debut at the age of 68 years and 127 days.
Arians is known for being a longtime advocate for diversity within the NFL community, and encourages it within his own staff.
He currently runs the only professional football team which features four major coordinators from the Black community and two women in full-time coaching positions.
"To hear voices in a staff meeting that aren't the same, don't look alike, but they all have input, you get better output," said Arians.
Should the Buccaneers win Super Bowl LV, Coach Arians will become the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl.
We wish both teams the best of luck at this year’s showdown.
We will be watching to see who scores touchdowns and records. Follow our twitter account on Sunday as we announce new records in real time.