Sarah Thomas Bio: NFL Officiating, Family & Net Worth

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Sarah Thomas is an American football official for the National Football League (NFL). She is the first woman to officiate a major college football game, a bowl game and the first to officiate in a Big Ten stadium.

It’s normal when you flip your channels and come across football officials. However, they are mostly males; seeing females in that arena feels special.

Thomas is not an unusual figure. She broke the gender stereotypes by becoming the first woman to officiate at the Super Bowl. 

Thomas is a power-packed football official (referee) featuring in the NFL.

Sarah Thomas, First Female Official To Officiate Super Bowl
Sarah Thomas, First Female Official To Officiate Super Bowl (Source: Newsweek)

What’s more impressive is not that she is a lady official but the fact that she has been the first lady official on many occasions. 

If we talk about her historical feats, there are abundant of them ever since her 2015 full-time work till 2024.

We will look into the details of the football official in this article. Before getting started, let’s warm up through a quick dose of quick facts.

Quick Facts

Full Name Sarah Thomas (nee Bailey)
Date of Birth September 21, 1973
Birth Place Pascagoula, Mississippi
Nick Name None
Religion Christianity
Nationality American 
Ethnicity White
Zodiac Sign  Virgo
Age 50 Years Old
Height 5’10″/1.78 m/178 cm
Weight Not Available 
Hair Color Blonde 
Eye Color Black 
Build Athletic 
Father’s Name Not Available 
Mother’s Name Not Available 
Siblings Two brothers
High School Pascagoula High School
College University of Mobile
Marital Status Married 
Spouse Brian Thomas (m. 2000-Present)
Kids Two Sons, Brady Thomas and Bridley Thomas
A Daughter Bailey Thomas 
Current city  Brandon, Mississippi
Profession Football Official (referee), Sales Representative 
Active Years 2015-Present
Salary $250,000 Per Year
Social Media Instagram, Twitter 
Last Update March 2024

Age, Height & Physical Attributes

Sarah Thomas is a blonde lady who stands fairly at 5 feet 11 inches (1.78 meters).

Talking about her appearance, she is a fair-skinned woman with black eyes and an oval-shaped face. Being a football official, she maintains her diet and fitness regime almost like a professional player.

Sarah During A Game
Sarah During A Game (Source: Twitter)

As you plunge into her workout routine, it is distinguished as an upper body workout, lower body workout, and overall conditioned workout. 

Her upper body workout includes push-ups, chest passes, and hand walks, while her lower body workout includes back squats, squat jump, and sled push.

Likewise, her conditioned workout consists of warm-ups, sprints, and lateral slides.

Early Life, Family, & Education

Sarah Thomas (nee Bailey) was born on September 21, 1973, in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Although she has been sharing many good words about her parents, she has yet to reveal their names. Anyway, she grew up alongside her brothers, Lee and Scott.

Sarah had a well-groomed childhood, and ever since her early days, she has been into sports.

Equally important, having two big brothers involved in sports made her more intrigued about sports. Soon enough, she was also indulged in softball and basketball. 


Sarah attended Pascagoula High School and started playing softball. You will be surprised to know that Thomas was lettered four times in softball, making her the first student ever to do so.

What’s more, fascinating is that she loved the thrill the sports provided. Thus, even when her father did not allow her to play, she was found playing with the boy’s team.

The fact that she was getting scolded didn’t stop her from doing what she loved. Thomas was involved in every possible game during high school.

Later, the football official attended the University of Mobile on a basketball scholarship and was an academic all-American.

Sarah finished her collegiate basketball career with 779 points, 441 rebounds, 108 assists, and 192 steals. She ranks fifth in the college’s history.

Thomas Sharing Her Experience
 Thomas Sharing Her Experience (Source: Twitter)

Well, shifting our concern to academics, Thomas graduated in 1995 with a degree in communications and pursued a career in pharmaceutical sales.

Later following her passion for sports, she joined the church league basketball and appeared in the games for it.

Things were going well for her, and she was enjoying her life until some guys started complaining about how Sarah made them uncomfortable, and eventually, she was kicked out. 

Officiating Career 

A turning factor! Sarah didn’t give up; instead, she found the other way around to stay connected with her passion.

She commenced tagging along with her brother to a meeting of football officials (Gulf Coast Football Officials Association).

Hence, the year 1996 was the pivotal point that sparked her career, and she started working in the high school associations in Mississippi.

She devoted several years to the Middle Mississippi Athletic Association and eventually applied for junior college football.

Conference USA

Finally, in 2007, Sarah got a call from the officials in Conference USA in 2006. As she revealed, she had a 45 minutes interview, and her communication skills contributed a lot to her standing out. 

Back then, Gerry Austin, Conference USA’s coordinator of officials, approved her in the Conference USA.

Therefore, making history, Sarah Thomas became the first-ever woman to officiate an NCAA’s Major College Football Bowl Division in 2007. 

Sarah Officiating A Football Game
Sarah Officiating A Football Game (Source: Twitter)

“She (Sarah) understood that the rules of the game of football should be applied within the spirit of the game and not within the technical writing of the rules,” said Gerry Austin.

He further added, “She has the ability to calm the coach down and to explain whatever the coach is questioning.”

Besides, she has also worked at Jacksonville state at the University of Memphis for two Conference USA games. 

Bowl Games 

Alongside five other female members, Sarah officiated a major college football in 2009.

However, she was the only one to start at the Football Bowl Subdivision level in her third season.

Within just two years, Thomas set yet another feat in the record book by becoming the first female to officiate a bowl game (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl).

Similarly, she also featured in the United Football League games and even officiated the 2010 league championship game.

Moreover, Thomas was promoted to NFL in 2011 and became the first woman to officiate in a Big Ten stadium. She served as a line judge in a game between Northwestern and Rice.

National Football League (NFL)

In 2013, Sarah Thomas became one of the 21 finalists in contention for a permanent NFL officiating position, closely followed by the NFL Referee Development program.

Afterward, she worked in the college Senior Bowl for Division I players.

Thomas became the first full-time female official in NFL history and officiated her debut game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on September 13, 2015.

Since then, she has never stepped down, nor has she ever given us a reason to point anything at her. 

In fact, what flows is the stillness in her consistency and the only light that motivates youngsters and anyone laid back.

Speaking of professionalism, you should see the 2016 Sarah Thomas, when she completed her work even with a broken wrist during a Vikings-Packers game.

Change In Rules

Way before the 2021 season, all the NFL officiates were to wear a baggy uniform and a cap without holes.

However, as Thomas got charged as the first lady officiate, she could have her hair in a ponytail. Thus, now, she can be easily figured out in the crowd.

In 2022, Sarah appeared as a down judge and line judge in 22 games.

First Woman To Officiate In Super Bowl 

Any NFL fan would know how the sports officials are; stout male, old, grey hair, etc.

The progress is slow with the NFL system as there were no female officials in NFL until 2015.

Therefore, it was news for celebration when Sarah Thomas became the first full-time woman official in NFL.

An even big reason to celebrate was when she became the first female to officiate a Super Bowl. On February 7, 2021, she served as a down judge for Super Bowl LV.

She appeared alongside her crewmates, referee Carl Cheffers, umpire Fred Bryan, line judge Rusty Baynes, field judge James Coleman, side judge Eugene Hall, back judge Dino Paganelli and replay official Mike Wimmer.

Sarah Officiating the NFL Playoff Games
Sarah Officiating the NFL Playoff Games (Source: Twitter)

In 2007, she stood as the down judge and earned her foremost on-field assignment for a playoff game.

Not to mention her alternate role in the 2018 Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams Wild Card game.

Sarah also officiated the 2020 NFL season alongside the crew, including Shawn Hochuli.

In the 2022-23 season, she appeared as a down judge in a game between Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins on January 15, 2023.


  • “Being the first isn’t the reason I did this, but if my story can positively impact anyone, that’s what matters to me. I don’t want to be on an island by myself as the first female official. But I love having the title, and I love what it means to other people, including my daughter.”
  • “Being a mom is, of course, the most important to me. I try to take what I learned in my upbringing and pass it on to my own children. I try to teach my kids accountability, time management, and just so you know again, as my parents taught me, treat others the way you want to be treated.”
  • “You can choose to look at something as either a roadblock or a speedbump. How big is your rearview mirror, and how big is your windshield. Which one is larger?”
  • “There is so much more to my journey than me arriving with the initials NFL behind my name. People always ask you what motivates you, Sarah. If you don’t motivate yourself every morning, you need to check your motor. Get up and get moving.”

Net Worth & Earnings

Although Sarah hasn’t enclosed her detailed net worth and figures, she leads a lavish life with her millions of dollars.

Per sportskeeda, she is the highest-paid female referee and bags around $250,000 annually as an NFL official. 

According to sources, her regular game earning is between $4,000-$5,000 per game, while the officials are paid $10,000 for the playoffs.

Additionally, she had also appeared in the 2019 Super Bowl LIII commercial. Also, she works full-time in pharmaceutical sales for Novo Nordisk.

Personal Life, Husband & Kids

Apart from being an NFL official, Thomas handles a much bigger responsibility as a mother and a wife.

She is a down-to-earth person who has inspired her daughter and millions of others.

Sarah Thomas With Her Family
Sarah Thomas With Her Family (Source: Twitter)

Thomas is a married woman and mother to three kids; two sons, Brady Thomas and Bridley Thomas, and a daughter Bailey Thomas.

The NFL official is a loving wife to her spouse, Brian Thomas. The duo has been married since 2000 and has been going strong ever since. Not to mention, she credits all her success to her family. 


Sarah Thomas, the first female official to officiate major college football and Super Bowl in 2021, has gained millions of fans worldwide.

Sarah Thomas's Popularity Graph
Sarah Thomas’s Popularity Graph (Source: Google Trends)

The above image gives brief information about the popularity of Sarah Thomas based on Google searches in the United States over a year.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Where is Sarah Thomas today?

Sarah Thomas is still on the National Football League's officiating roster.

Who is the first female football official in the NFL?

Sarah Thomas is the first female to be hired as a full-time official for the NFL.

Rajani Gurung
Rajani Gurung
Hey, I'm Rajani! As a digital content writer, I write for several websites on a wide range of topics. At Playersbio, I cover to write about hot trending celebrities and news. My professional experience makes me write the hard topics in a simplified manner for easiness.

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