Quarterback Tom Brady may have been crowed the MVP of Super Bowl LV, but in our books, that title really belonged to Sarah Thomas, the first female to ever referee the championship game! Thomas was a member of a seven-person crew at the February 7 event, which saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come out victorious over the Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
Though it was a historic moment, Thomas insisted she treated the night like any other football game.
"When you look at the NFL any give Sunday, and we treat it as if it is our Super Bowl, and so this game was no different," she explained. "We prepare all year for this game. We are given the opportunity to work it, so we were prepared and ready."
Despite keeping cool, calm and collected on the field, Thomas confessed she became "emotional" once the day's ceremonies kicked off.
"My mother had pinned a little angel on me when I was a freshman in college, and she told me, she said 'I may not be there with you in person, but I'll be there with you in spirit as you go through this journey of college,' and so she found that angel [on Saturday night]," Thomas recalled. "And she pinned it on a little note and said, 'We're not going to be there with you in person, but we're there with you in spirit. Will you pin this on your uniform somewhere?'"
"Then I listened to 'Rise Up,' that song..." she continued. "Every word from the start to the end is ... I have chills now, and that got me emotional because I would do this 1,000 times again and rise up and do this over and over, and that song just has a lot of meaning to it."
The end of the game was another meaningful moment for the mom-of-three, as her daughter Bailey, as well as her sons Brady and Bridley, stormed the field to congratulate her.
"Them being there, I think just gave me another sense of just calm. That they're there. They're safe," she said. "And I often say being the first in any of this is not what I set out to do, but being a mom first is what I am to do. So having them there and to share this with me, it was just unbelievable."
Thomas is the first female ref in the history of the NFL, and in 2019, she became the first woman to make the calls in a playoff game. Since she had no predecessors, she made sure she was treated as an equal.
In fact, during the beginning of her career, NFL official Gerald Austin told Thomas she needed to tuck her hair into her shirt and wear little to no makeup so that she could blend in with her colleagues. Needless to say, she wasn't having it.
"I said 'Gerald, you're crossing the line. There's a lot of things I thank the good Lord for, and makeup is one of them," shared. "But I understand why he did that, so I wouldn't immediately be stereotyped that I shouldn't be out there because I'm a woman. But as things have progressed, it is not about my hair anymore."
Though she's now considered a trailblazer, Thomas admitted she never gave much thought about the career while growing up, as she played only softball and basketball, and prior to the job, she worked as a pharmaceutical rep.
"I couldn't say I ever set out to be a football official, but I ended up falling in love with it," she acknowledged during her interview with CBS This Morning. "I often joke about I hated the officials when I was playing, and they hated me, but as you pursue this career and you fall in love with what you are doing and to be a part of such a strong fraternity and they let a little sister in, and I know there's going to be some more women following me."