The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Pro Sports

June 14, 2013

Female official closing in on NFL history

Thomas not seeking to 'shatter glass ceiling'

INDIANAPOLIS — Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Sarah Thomas' three-day stay in Indianapolis this week was how unremarkable it was in the end.

Thomas, entering her eighth-year as a line judge in Conference USA, is a part of the NFL's developmental program for game officials. She worked the Colts' mini-camp from Tuesday through Thursday, and she could become the league's first regular female official as early as next season.

But Thomas doesn't view herself as a pioneer.

"I've never been one to want to set out and shatter a glass ceiling or anything like that," she said in a classic southern drawl during a recent conference call at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. "It's just at the end of the day I'm there to officiate, and (for) the longevity of it all and (to) have a career of it. I've always said, NFL, if they're knocking on the door, I'm not gonna turn them down, believe me.

"I'm honored to be a part of this developmental program, and I'm glad that they've implemented this program for us officials. And I take it one day at a time and one snap a time."

That philosophy served her well in Indy, where her presence went largely undetected — even during the Colts' open practice in front of some 10,000 fans Wednesday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The biggest complaint might have come from outside linebacker Robert Mathis, who took issue with an offsides penalty Thomas assessed against him. But even that can be viewed as a victory.

Player disagreements are a sure sign Thomas is being treated the same as any of her male peers.

"We had one here for the last three days, and she was outstanding from my vantage point," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said of the possibility of a female official joining the NFL. "As far as I'm concerned, I got no issues with it."

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