2014 could be the debut of the first NFL full-time, female referee

It’s taken a while for women, without actually playing the game, to connect, in official ways, to the National Football League. There is still controversy, circulating in the online wagering community, produced from situations that involved women and players, interacting in locker rooms, or on the sidelines. Now, however, it looks as is the NFL may soon break this barrier, in a very official way. In fact, the woman will be the official. Her name is Sarah Thomas, and she may be officiating in the 2014 NFL football betting season.

YouWager’s football betting fans may remember the name. Thomas became the first woman to officiate an NCAA football game in 2007. She also worked a bowl game, as line judge for the Little Caesar’s Bowl in 2009.

Thomas recently attended the NFL’s Developmental Program. This confirms her preparation for officiating a league game. Dean Blandino, VP of officiating for the NFL, told a YouWager news source that 2014 seems like a reasonable year for Thomas to become the first woman to officiate an NFL game.

Blandino told YouWager’s source, “It’s just something that happened. She was in our pipeline for a while.”

Thomas attended the special developmental program the league ran during three days of an Indianapolis Colts training camp so that she can be eligible for a full-time job as referee, when she has met all the requirements. The key word here is eligible. Some YouWager bettors joke that an aging ref will have to die before Thomas gets a full time gig. There aren’t that many openings.

The NFL had noticed Thomas for some time. Along with the usual background checks, interviews, and professional requirements, Thomas will have to prove she can handle the speed of today’s game.

Thomas isn’t worried. She told YouWager’s source that it’s similar to a player adjusting from one conference to another. Thomas said, “The speed, yes, is there. These are just phenomenal athletes on both sides of the ball. The game has a tendency to slow down the most snaps you get and repetition. So, hopefully, the more snaps I get, things will start slowing down a little bit.”

Blandino, at the NFL agreed. He told YouWager’s source, “It’s similar from when a players jumps from college to the NFL. Getting used to that type of speed is important.”

Thomas won’t technically be the first female ref to work an NFL game, a senior analyst at YouWager reminds us. During the Lockout of 2012, Shannon Eastin was the first woman to work as a referee.