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NFL hires first female official

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Sarah Thomas will be the first female to be a regular official in the NFL.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL announced the hire of its first female official on Wednesday as part of the addition of nine full-time officials.

Sarah Thomas, a Mississippi native who Wilson said has been a finalist for an NFL position previously, has officiated Conference USA games in the NCAA for nearly a decade. She has also officiated during NFL camps and the preseason previously, and will serve as a line judge in the NFL.

A technicality would keep Thomas from being the first woman to ever officiate an NFL game, though. That honor belongs to Shannon Eastin, who was on the field working when replacement officials were brought in by the league during a referee lockout in 2012. Thomas, however, would be the first female to be hired as a regular official by the NFL.

Thomas has previously said that the biggest difference she sees in the NFL compared to NCAA games is how fast the players move at the professional level.

"The speed, yes, is there," Thomas said. "These are just phenomenal athletes on both sides of the ball. The game has a tendency to slow down the (more) snaps you get and repetition. So, hopefully, the more snaps I get, things will start slowing down a little bit."

Thomas is no doubt at the point where she's ready to take the next step, or the NFL would likely not have hired her. It's refreshing to see the league make the right decision without waiting for public outcry to prompt them.