Mississippi’s Thomas is first woman to officiate a Super Bowl

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, February 4, 2021

A Mississippi native will be the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl game when the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers meet Sunday in Tampa for Super Bowl LV.

Sarah Bailey Thomas, 47, is a Gulf Coast native who lives in the Jackson metropolitan area with her husband and three children. She became an NFL official in 2015, the first full-time female official in the league’s history.

Thomas was also the first woman to officiate a Division 1-A high school game in Mississippi, to first to officiate a major college football game, the first to officiate a bowl game and the first to officiate in a Big Ten stadium. In 2019, she became the first woman to officiate an NFL playoff game.

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This week, U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), of Brookhaven, heralded the role Thomas will play on Sunday.

“To me and many others, Sarah’s selection to officiate Super Bowl LV is just a natural progression for a talented professional,” Hyde-Smith said.  “I can assure you, anyone who knows Sarah as I do will not be surprised by her successful career.  Sarah — a mother and career woman — has all the qualities I imagine the NFL wants in a good official: smart, confident, decisive, reliable and committed.”

Hyde-Smith said the entire state is proud of Thomas.

“We look forward to watching her latest history-making appearance at the Super Bowl,” Hyde-Smith said.

To view Hyde-Smith’s speech on Thomas in the U.S. Senate, click here.