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 / Updated  / Source: TODAY
By Scott Stump

With a current player and others suggesting that Sarah Thomas being hired by the NFL is a publicity stunt, she would like to remind them of the work it took for her to get this far in her career.

"I have been an official for almost 20 years,'' Thomas told Willie Geist. "This hasn't been an overnight sensation or a year."

Thomas was introduced by the NFL as its first female official on Wednesday along with eight other first-time officials. She will serve as a line judge in her first season after having gained previous NFL experience in preseason games and practices. A mother of three, Thomas, 41, has been a trailblazer for much of her career, as she became the first woman to officiate a major college football game when she was hired by Conference USA in 2007.

More from Thomas:

  • On the social significance of her hiring: "I am just out doing a job,'' she said. "I know it has meaning to a lot of people, and I am honored for that, but that's not why I set out to do this, to break a gender barrier of any sorts. I just did it because I love officiating."
  • On the reaction of coaches and players to a female official: "When they hear my voice or see that I am wearing mascara they say, 'That's a girl,' but that's about it. They really don't care. They really just want you to do the job and be consistent and be good at it."

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