Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Woman officiates New Orleans Saints practice

While everyone was concentrating on one woman (Kim Kardashian, Reggie Bush's girlfriend) at the New Orleans Saints' practices/intersquad scrimmage last week, there was another woman on the field that was barely noticed. In fact, it seems Sarah Thomas didn't get any press attention. Buried at the bottom of the New Orleans Saints July 31 practice notes is the following: "NFL officials participated in both this morning’s practice and this afternoon’s practice and joining the officials was a collegiate official from Conference USA. The official was Sarah Thomas, a line judge, who actively participated with the officiating crew."

According to the Blog of New Orleans, "NFL referee Gene Steratore said that the NFL regularly brings in college coaches to help officiate training camp practices and that they’re usually officials that come highly recommended and are being looked at by the league. He would not say whether or not Thomas is being considered for a position in the NFL." The blog quotes Steratore as saying, "I know that she’s very qualified and very good at what she does."

According to a Knoxville News article last year, Thomas is a pharmaceutical saleswoman who became the first woman to be an official for a NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision game when Jacksonville State faced Memphis last September. In the article, Gerry Austin, a NFL referee and Conference USA's coordinator of officials, said, "She has a good presence and demeanor. I feel like she has the ability and courage to make a call, and the guts to not make one, too."

Chicksinthehuddle.com goes to bat for Thomas, saying, "We’d like to think that once she’s paid her dues, she’ll be considered for at least a side or back judge officiating gig (in the NFL). After all, women account for nearly 50% of the NFL’s growing fan base. Wouldn’t it be nice to show us some love by acknowledging the fact that a woman can call a game with the same amount of accuracy as a man? (And considering how some of these guys call a game, I’d like to think maybe even a little better…)"

It unclear what, if any, plans the NFL has for Thomas.

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