Sarah Thomas made history over the weekend as the first woman to work an NFL playoff game as an on-field official.

Thomas Officiated Chargers-Patriots Game

Thomas served as the down judge in Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots. It isn’t the only time she’s made history. Going back to 2009, she became the first woman to officiate a college football bowl game. In 2015, the NFL made her the first full-time female official. “You never expect it but when it comes, you definitely answer the call but I was just about speechless,” Thomas said about the receiving the job.

Prior to becoming a ref, Thomas attended the University of Mobile in Prichard, Alabama, on a basketball scholarship and was named an academic All-American. Her own athletic experiences were given a new perspective when she first got into officiating.

“Maybe at times when they made a controversial call that I didn’t think was right, I voiced my opinion but I think they would get just as aggravated with me at times, too,” Thomas said. “When I started in football officiating, I had no idea the pride and the amount of time that they put into trying to get the game right.”

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During games, Thomas tucks her hair into her hat. She explained that it’s “to truly blend in. If I have a ponytail, you know, then I separate myself immediately. So tucking my hair, I blend in and I’m just another official.”

In another interview, she added, “I’ve just been doing this truly because I love it. The guys don’t think of me as a female, they see me as just another official.”

Last year she was an alternate for the NFC Wild Card matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams.

Thomas wasn’t the only woman involved during the Divisional round. On Saturday, Terri Valentini was the instant replay official when the Indianapolis Colts were routed by the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-13. Valentini is the NFL’s first female instant replay official, and the matchup is her first postseason involvement.

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