The NFL is piloting an advanced training program to give college officials an apprenticeship with NFL crews this season. There are supposedly 21 recruits, which the NFL declined to disclose names to us, but one name has been made known.
Sarah Thomas is one of the recruits and is on a fast track to become the NFL’s first female official (when one discounts the asterisked replacement referee program). You probably already knew she was in this training program when she appeared on Good Morning America and CNN. Or maybe it was Nightly News, ESPN, or the NFL Network. Or, CNN again.
In one of the interviews, Thomas was asked why all of the media attention, and she replied “I was just told I needed to do [these interviews], so here I am.” No member of the officiating staff or the training program is allowed to address the media without being cleared by the league office. Apparently, there are at least two other female officials in the advanced training program, but Thomas is the one that is spotlighted by the league.
The NFL, of course, is foisting the storyline as if addressing a gaggle of notepad-toting, fedora-wearing reporters in a here’s-your-headline pronouncement. (I’d like to think I can pull off the fedora look.) And that has to mean that the NFL will promote Thomas next season if there is an appropriate vacancy, or will make some sort of adjustment to make sure that it happens.
Thomas worked the Raiders-Saints game on Jerome Boger’s crew on Friday night. It’s not clear if the NFL will continue to drop the advanced training recruits into the regular crews for the final preseason games. But it is fairly certain that Thomas will see other game in the NFL this time next year.
Image: New Orleans Saints photo